Thursday, February 4, 2016

"You are always welcome here!"

Spiritual Formation at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Tucson - Epiphany Season 2016

During Epiphany season our between-services course was entitled, “Welcoming the Hidden Christ – Meeting the Challenge of Migration and Hospitality,” from the Gospel saying “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35) We discussed such questions as: How can we as a community offer respite for refugees and strangers? What actions are we, both individually and as a community, taking to welcome the stranger — the hidden Christ? Engendering lively discussions among ourselves, we welcomed presenters from local organizations that offer hospitality to migrants and refugees.

First we had a visit from John Heid of Casa Mariposa who reconnected with old friends Carol and Kate Bradsen, and Fred Bevins. Casa Mariposa through its Restoration Project has provided hospitality to recently released detainees (from ICE - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and visited people in detention in Eloy. (“Nourished and empowered by the Spirit, the Casa Mariposa community seeks to live in right relationship with one another, the community, and the earth through hospitality, simple and sustainable living, playful spirituality, and peaceful, prophetic action. The Restoration Project is work carried out by the community of Casa Mariposa in support and solidarity with women and men being held in immigration detention centers in Florence and Eloy, Arizona.”) In addition they witness to the challenge of migration and hospitality through participation in community events such as the Día de los Muertos Pilgrimage to Mission San Xavier del Bac, the All Souls Procession through downtown Tucson, and the Binational Las Posadas at the Nogales Sonora/Arizona border.

Toetie Oberman and Sang Yeon spoke to us about the work of two ministries of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, Refugee Focus and Center. (“LSS-SW resettles approximately 1,000 refugees each year as they strive toward previously unknown goals, strengthen newfound bounds, and courageously rebuild their lives. Services include: pre-arrival housing, case management, English classes, navigating transportation and basic public services, employment support, after-school activities and tutoring for children, programs to develop self-sufficiency and skills for women, and immigration services. CENTER is a hub for refugee students, parents, teachers, schools, volunteers, and other nonprofits that work with them across Tucson.”)

Sunday February 7th, we plan to greet Jamie Flynn from Alitas, a program of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona. (“The Alitas Program serves migrant women and children who have left their home countries to escape violence and poverty. We provide care, short-term shelter and help to reunite with family members in the U.S.”)

Refugee Focus and the Alitas Program welcome refugees from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The other local agency that provides hospitality to refugees arriving from overseas is The International Rescue Committee of Tucson – and they will be with us to celebrate Mardi Gras!

During Lent our spiritual formation course will be built around the ancient practice of lectio divina (sacred reading) …

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
Tucson, Arizona
"You are always welcome here!"