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Immigration and “The Future is Mestizo”: September 16-17 at Duke

August 8, 2011

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS ©2000 by John August Swanson. Serigraph 30 ¾” x 24” http://www.JohnAugustSwanson.com

One personal “conversion” in the last 5 years is around what I now see as a great test of Christian faithfulness in our time: the broken immigration system. So we’re delighted that Reconcilers Weekend 2011 (web site in both Spanish and English) features these two faithful witnesses—“father of Hispanic theology” Virgilio Elizondo of San Antonio and practitioner Kit Danley of Neighborhood Ministries in Phoenix. The theme: “The Future is Mestizo: Communities of New Creation at the Borders of Separation.” Past speakers include Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas, John Perkins and Charles Marsh, Angelina Atyam and Paride Taban, and Christine Pohl and Chris Heuertz.

It took a while for me to “discover” Elizondo and his mestizo vision as a powerful alternative to the visions of integration and diversity.

In May 2008 a Latino leader from California “interrupted” a gathering of U.S. leaders we hosted at Duke with the immigration challenge (I’ll never forget the African-American pastor who said “That is not our issue,” who was so changed by the end of the gathering he preached a homily entitled “God’s New We”; one powerful ripple effect of that gathering was the Houston Coalition for Immigration Reform).

In 2010 I went to the U.S./Mexico border for the first time for five unforgettable days with Duke Divinity faculty member Edgardo Colon-Emeric; immigration has been a focus at our 2010 and 2011 summer institutes, including drafting a Durham Declaration on Immigration and the Church; and this summer we sent a student to a new “Teaching Community” placement in Phoenix with Kit Danley’s ministry.

Thank God for the good seed sown by that nagging, persistent Latino leader who wouldn’t let up in May 2008. Come join us at Duke September 16 and 17 and taste the fruit.

About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. He writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.

See also: The story behind the Durham Declaration on Immigration and the Church by Noel Castellanos

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