June Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

In the middle of June I travel to Phoenix, AZ for the Unitarian Universalist Association General As­sembly or “GA.” As some of you already know, this year’s GA is different than usual. This year, we convene in a state that is under boycott. Local immigrants’ rights organizations such as the National Day Laborer Orga­nizing Network (http://www.ndlon.org/en/) and Puente (http://puenteaz.org/) called for the boycott two years ago when Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070 into law in April 2010. At the time it was one of the most radi­cal anti-immigration statutes in the country, giving unprecedented powers to police, sanctioning racial profil­ing, and blurring the line between state and federal authority related to immigration law enforcement. Given that the boycott was under way, the 2010 GA wrestled with whether or not to go forward with our 2012 GA scheduled to take place in Phoenix. Should we boycott AZ? The answer was ultimately “no.” We decided to stick with our plans to meet in Phoenix, but agreed that this would be a “Justice GA.” Instead of conducting business as usual, we will use our GA as an opportunity to bear witness to the injustice of AZ’s immigration law, to learn more about the plight of undocumented immigrants and their families, and to call for federal im­migration reform that respects the dignity and humanity of immigrants.

Our ministry theme for June is borders. We chose this theme in reference to the 2012 Justice GA in Phoenix. The reference is, of course, to national borders. There is no question that our national borders have become politically and economically divisive in recent years. They have also become a spiritual issue for many faith communities. What is our relationship to people who migrate (both legally and illegally) across the bor­der? How are we called to treat immigrants? Must we honor the old Biblical injunction to “welcome the stranger?” As a society we don’t agree on the answers. And while the Unitarian Universalist Association has taken a very bold public stance in support of civil rights and humane treatment for undocumented immigrants, it is also true that not all UUs agree on the answers.

But that’s what borders do: they divide us. Not just our national borders, but borders between racial and cultural groups, between economic classes, between cities and suburbs, between conservatives and liberals, between neighbors, and on and on. Borders divide us. During June I would like us to reflect on what happens to us when borders divide us. To what extent do the borders in our lives diminish us? To what extent do they uplift us? How do we remember our relatedness to people who live on the other side of a border from us? How do we communicate with people who live on the other side of a border from us—or people who think and be­lieve very differently from us? How do we challenge the borders in our lives for the sake of a more just, fair and sustainable world? Given the reality of borders, how do we find our relatedness?

With Love,

Rev. Josh

For information on the Arizona Boycott go to