While I find it exciting always to work in the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill, I confess some weeks are more interesting than others. This is one of those weeks.
The excitement level is high; the sense of possibility is great.
As I write these words, a very large, diverse crowd of people who support immigration reform are in the building. The excitement level is high; the sense of possibility is great.
Some have traveled all night to get here. Our building crew is repeatedly cleaning our restrooms that are getting used so much today. Our receptionist has not had a moment of rest.
What a great day! Thanks be to God that our denomination stands right here, at the heart of Capitol Hill, providing hospitality for a great social-justice movement.
A chance for success
Today, April 10, is a national faith advocacy day in pursuit of comprehensive immigration-reform legislation. We hope any reform, among other things, will lead to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, halt deportations and workplace raids, place humanitarian values at the center of enforcement efforts, and provide access to health care, social services and due process to all immigrants.
We have a real chance at success in the U.S. Congress.
We have a real chance at success in the U.S. Congress. This afternoon, after a day of meetings with members of Congress, tens of thousands of people will rally on Capitol Hill for the rights of immigrants. We United Methodists will be in the midst of the crowd.
In the midst of all this action, our staff and others paused at noon for our weekly Wednesday chapel service. Today’s theme was domestic violence because this is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. A Maryland United Methodist pastor, the Rev. Kirkland Reynolds, preached a simple, eloquent, moving sermon on the responsibility of the Church to be a place of refuge and healing for those who have suffered sexual abuse.
Reduce gun violence
Yesterday was a national faith day of advocacy in support of legislation that will reduce gun violence. Again, we have a real chance of success, not only because of our efforts, but of those of countless United Methodists who have been in touch with their members of Congress.
Thousands of people contacted their legislators to ask them to support laws that will provide background checks for all those who purchase guns, reinstate the assault weapons ban and reduce the number of bullets in ammunition clips. We are up against one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, the National Rifle Assn. Our resources in both budget and staff are tiny in comparison to theirs, but our hope and heart are not.
Also, yesterday, we hosted the Rev. Dr. Gary Mason, who leads the East Belfast Methodist Mission, an absolutely remarkable ministry taking place in the midst of a deeply divided community in Northern Ireland. Most Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland grow to adulthood without knowing one another. He said ancient myths and hatreds continue to be propagated from generation to generation.
Gary works to bring reconciliation, not in a meaningless manner, but through sophisticated techniques. Further, he meets regularly with extremists on every side of the conflict. It was a joy and inspiring to spend time with him.
And, just this past weekend, hundreds of Christians, including many United Methodists, were in town for the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days. Our focus was on the need to pass a new farm bill that will strengthen nutrition programs, enhance global food aid to the world’s most impoverished, and encourage farming and ranching practices that protect God’s creation.
I am grateful to God for the opportunity to represent our denomination on the front lines of the great efforts to bring about a more just, peaceful world.