The Kindness of Strangers (and Strangers No More)
by Rev. Tyler Connoley
One afternoon a few months ago, I received a call from a local pastor. Her church had helped a woman we'll call Maria with some food and shelter, before Maria got on a bus and left town for the southeast. A few weeks later, Maria called our local pastor with a desperate need. She had a court appointment to further her case for asylum, and the person she had gone to stay with was sick and couldn't take her. She remembered our local church as a place of safety and help, so she called. I contacted a UCC church in Maria's new hometown, and was able to connect her with a social worker and immigration lawyer, who were members of that church.
Sometimes we think of interdependence only in terms of our connections within the Southwest Conference, but my year as Immigrant Care Coordinator has been a constant reminder of the many ways we depend on those outside the conference as well. It's not just our connections to other UCC churches and to the National Setting, but to all the people who share our values in other denominations, in other organizations, and outside of any organizational structures. Every church in the conference has connections to people in their own communities, and those interdependent relationships make us stronger.
As you think about the ways your church can foster interdependence, remember to look to the people outside the church, as well as those within the Southwest Conference who share your values. It's likely there is someone else in your own community --or even across the country -- who shares your passions, and wants to partner with you as you embody God's unconditional justice and love.