A View From the Border - Reflection from Rev. John Fanestil, MDiv '92
Once again public controversy has erupted over the issue of undocumented immigration, this time around a rapid increase in the flow of unaccompanied minors from Central America. It is a good and natural thing that we, as a people of faith, would want to support "the stranger in our midst," for we know that when we do it is as if we are supporting Jesus himself (Matthew 25:35).
Bishop Minerva Carcaño has called on members of the California-Pacific Annual Conference to join in an Interfaith Weekend of Compassion and Prayer for Unaccompanied Migrant Children, July 18-20, 2014 from sunset to sunset. A wealth of resources for this weekend can be found here. As part of this weekend, Murrieta UMC and their new Senior Pastor, Stephanie Toon Glassman, will be hosting a forum on Sunday afternoon, July 20, at 4:30 pm in which I will be among the participants. (Murrieta UMC is located at 24652 Adams Avenue, Murrieta 92562)
For my part, I hope that this moment of public concern will serve as a spur to friends of CST to familiarize themselves with other opportunities to be in ministry with immigrants and refugees. Along the border right here within the bounds of our Annual Conference, an ongoing ministry of compassion and mercy can be found at the Neighborhood House of Calexico. Another opportunity to learn more about the border is available at El Faro: the Border Church, a binational celebration of communion which I am privileged to host each Sunday afternoon at San Diego's Friendship Park with Pastor Guillermo Navarrete of the Methodist Church of Mexico. Many of our local congregations - perhaps even your own - are deeply involved in ministries of support with immigrant, refugee and cross-border populations.
We are not alone. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are living outside their countries of origin. Of course our Southern California region is home to millions of such persons, each one a child of God.
An ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, Fanestil worked from 1992 to 2005 as the pastor of United Methodist congregations, including four years at the Calexico United Methodist Church, where he preached in both English and Spanish and fell in love with the peoples and cultures of the US-Mexico borderlands. From 2007 to 2014 he served as Executive Director of the Foundation for Change, a San Diego-based foundation encouraging supporting community-based organizing efforts in the San Diego/Tijuana region.
Fanestil is also a writer. His first book, Mrs. Hunter’s Happy Death: Lessons on Living from People Preparing to Die, was published by Doubleday in 2006.
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