A recent study found that the best way to ignite passion in your congregation or community for welcoming immigrants is to share personal stories of immigrants. Hearing first hand from immigrants about why they are in America and what it would mean to gain American citizenship can go a long way. Stories taken from you own congregation or community are ideal however there are many such stories online too.
The Mayor, a short film by award winning director Theo Rigby, documents the friendship of Paul Bridges and an immigrant family. At one time Bridges felt that immigrants were less than worthy, however, after spending time with this family he realizes that all people deserve respect and dignity.
As time goes on both Bridges and his new friends equally impact each other’s lives in significant ways, a outcome that seems to be very common. Welcoming immigrants may include providing services like legal counsel and ESL classes, yet many churches find that simply relationally connecting to immigrants is also enriching. A smile and welcoming invitation for dinner will go a long way.
Your church may not yet be ready to provide legal counsel to immigrants and that is okay. The Immigration Alliance (TIA) partners with churches at all points of the spectrum. From a church that is exploring the option of serving immigrants to a church with a mission towards providing legal counsel to immigrants, TIA seeks to mobilize all churches.
Onward has a large selection of films, video clips, and journalism that tell a deeper story about immigration today. Along with the video, Onward (http://onward.sojo.net/) has put together a trailer and discussion guide to pair with the film. Also, log onto Onward for tips on hosting a screening.