Presbyterians Today

AUG-SEP 2018

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10 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay JUST LIVING What does the Lord require of you? Presbyterians are answering that prophetic question, working for justice and seeking to help their neighbors in a variety of ways. Presbyterians Today shares their stories. rallies. Also, many of the families directly affected by the raid, with a loved one detained by ICE, have volun- teered and show up to translate, give rides, work the food pantry, watch children and yes, even worship on Sunday morning. I have been amazed, too, at the help from the Catholic Diocese, the Lutheran Synod and especially the University of Iowa. The university sent bilingual doctoral students from their child psychology program. Their law professors showed up on the first night, with graduate students, to help document the families affected and offer legal advice, and they have been present in the church every week during business hours in some capacity to help the families. Amazing. PT: What advice would you give other congre- gations who are seeking to be more faithful in advocating for immigrants? Hegar: I have three pieces of advice to congrega- tions, and that is to become proactive, be visible/rela- tional and be prepared. Look into your church's historical DNA. What have you already done in the past concerning social justice? First Presbyterian had adopted refugee families during the Vietnam War. It wasn't a far move for them to become involved in local immigrant and refugee issues, even in Iowa. Next, become visible and relational. We advertised educational events, rented the local theater to host a documentary and had global potlucks to raise aware- ness about diversity in our community. We became visible and built relationships with experts and neighbors. Finally, be prepared in terms of communicating what is going on. Have your website ready with online giving, updated information and helpful links. I cannot empha- size this enough. Our website views leapt from a few thousand a month to more than 10,000 unique views in days. Our online giving platform exploded with dona- tions. Updates were posted and people could be directed W hen 32 immigrant workers at a concrete plant near Mount Pleasant, Iowa, were arrested last spring, First Presbyterian Church got to work in helping to provide shelter, money and legal assistance for those potentially facing deportation and their families. Presbyterians Today caught up with the Rev. Trey Hegar, the church's pastor, to talk about immigra- tion, justice and the local church. PT: How ready was your congregation to respond to the ICE raid in Mount Pleasant? Hegar: The church elders had already passed a resolution for our building to be a gathering place for families to reunite if this was to happen. We also had a standing agreement with the school district for children left behind to be brought to the church. PT: What did you find challenging in address- ing immigration issues? Hegar: One of the most challenging aspects has been treading the controversial topic of helping immigrants. Some people in the congregation admitted to reserva- tions about the role we were playing in this crisis. They had important questions. I addressed the issues both from the pulpit and with personal conversations. We did some sharing about the complexity and length of obtain- ing citizenship. We also spoke boldly that some families had come illegally and we still chose — and choose — to help. Even those with reservations, though, have felt strongly about being hospitable in a time of need, agreeing to figure out the rest later. PT: What surprised you? Hegar: I was surprised by who showed up to help. Many non-churchgoing members of our community have come to be a part of this body of Christ serving our neighbors. They haven't stepped foot in our church on Sunday, but they show up at meetings, dinners and Talking justice with … Trey Hegar on immigration and the local church

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