Faith and refugee groups challenge low numbers for refugee admissions
World Relief's Spokane office is disappointed that the administration chose to set the maximum number of refugees who can be resettled to the United States at a historically low 30,000. World Relief spent much of August and early September advocating for the administration to allow at least 75,000 refugees to find safety and rebuild their lives in the United States.
Despite overwhelming evidence that refugee resettlement is good for our economy, good for our nation's foreign relations, and is central to America's values, I am disappointed to see that our government is turning its back on refugees.
The President's refugee determination follows the United Nations' recent finding that the number of refugees worldwide increased to 25.4 million people in 2017, an increase of 2.9 million over the previous year.
This is the time where America should be stepping up to lead in addressing the tremendous surge of persecuted people around the world by providing diplomatic solutions, humanitarian aid, and resettlement for at least a small fraction of the world's most vulnerable people.
The new limits on refugee resettlement will begin to take effect on Oct. 1, 2018 and continue until Sept. 30, 2019. Historically, the U.S. has welcomed an average of 82,433 refugees since the refugee act of 1980.
Spokane has seen a 60 percent reduction in refugee resettlement in 2018. After resettling nearly 600 refugees in 2016, the city will welcome just over 220 refugees two years later. The lower admissions ceiling may continue that precipitous drop.
This repeated reduction in the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. is incredibly troubling.
Not only is it a continuation of a series of unprecedented attacks on our American values and on the humanitarian nature of the refugee resettlement program, but it falls far short of helping the large number of vulnerable people around the world. This is just another step in the systematic dismantling of a program that exists to shelter people who need our support and protection. America can do better, said World Relief CEO Tim Breene.
We are concerned for dozens of families who were resettled in Spokane and are hoping to be reunited with brothers, sisters, spouses, parents, and children.
Since the local World Relief office opened in 1992, we have welcomed more than 10,000 refugees to the Inland Northwest. Even as the number of refugees resettled fell in 2017, World Relief Spokane served more than 1,500 refugees and immigrants during the calendar year.
Mark Finney, Spokane's office director, World Relief
The Presbytery of the Inland Northwest recently encouraged support for immigrants
The Presbytery of the Inland Northwest online newsletter recently invited members to join in advocating for a higher refugee resettlement ceiling for fiscal year 2019 by signing on to a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is a member of a Presbyterian church in Wichitia, Kans., and a members of the cabinet advocating for a higher refugee ceiling.
The letter is intended to bolster his efforts. There is a strong biblical basis for extending hospitality to foreigners and strangers, and this letter is a tangible way to practice this kind of hospitality toward refugees.
When the flow of all refugees is dramatically decreased it impacts brothers and sisters in Christ who have been designated as refugees because of their commitment to following Jesus and therefore have been persecuted for their faith. Refugee is a distinct legal designation and those who are resettled in the U.S. have been carefully vetted to ensure safety and security.
Excerpts from the letter to Mike Pompeo:
We encourage you to ensure that the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program continues to provide a robust opportunity for those persecuted for their faith abroad and denied religious liberty to find safety and freedom in our country. We ask you to urge President Trump to set the refugee ceiling for FY19 at 75,000 or higher. As evangelical Christians, religious liberty and the security of persecuted Christian brothers and sisters around the world are important to us.
During the Reformation in the 16th century, Reformed pastors and Christians were the target of persecution that forced some of our founding fathers to flee their countries. Because we know you share this commitment to advancing religious liberty and security, we ask you to use your power and position to advocate for those who are among the most vulnerable in our world: refugees, especially those who have lost their homes and countries due to their deeply held faith. Though we believe the U.S. should welcome those persecuted for any faith, of special concern are Christians who are persecuted for following Jesus.
We believe the Bible calls us as Christians to extend hospitality to the stranger and to bless those who are persecuted. Jesus says that we serve Him when we welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:40), and in His most famous sermon He says "blessed are those who are persecuted" (Matthew 5:10). In the Old Testament, there is a strong, repeated call to welcome and love the foreigner who has no home because God had mercy on Israel and freed them when they were foreigners in Egypt.
The U.S has been blessed with resources to welcome those who are persecuted. We are concerned that current U.S. policy toward refugees limits the flow of Christians and other persecuted religious minorities. According to the State Department's Refugee Processing Center, in 2016, 1,966 persecuted Christian refugees were resettled from Iraq. Halfway through 2018, only 14 had been resettled, a 98.6 percent decline. The number of Yezidis who were resettled declined from 524 in 2016 to zero in the first half of 2018.
In Burma, 70 percent of 150,249 Burmese refugees admitted between 2008 and 2017 were Christians, and 11.5 percent were Muslims. Both face persecution. This year, there has been nearly a 77 percent decline in Burmese Christian refugees resettled compared to 2016. When the flow of refugees is limited by a historically low refugee ceiling and by slowed or halted processing, persecuted Christians and people of other faiths suffer.
We believe we can do better to provide freedom and security to refugees.
30th Jubilee Marketplace is Nov. 2 and 3
For the 30th year, First Presbyterian Church will present the Jubilee International Marketplace which offers fair-traded handcrafts from around the world.
Proceeds go to the artisans who made the items and the vendors.
Jubilee will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, at the church, 318 S. Cedar.
Items sold at Jubilee include baskets, jewelry, Christmas décor, food, gifts, folk art, clothing, accessories, textiles and more.
"Founded in Nov. 1998 as an Alternative Christmas Sale, it's an opportunity to support fair trade artisans with a living wage," said Myra Watts, communications coordinator.
"The sale promotes alternative shopping that offers empowerment, justice and dignity for people worldwide, especially in developing countries," she said.
Thousands of shoppers select from about 30 vendors that fill the church's gym and fellowship hall.
Mary and John Frankhauser, two of the founding volunteers, continue to organize the event as part of their commitment to the biblical understanding of jubilee in Deut. 15 and Lev. 25, which celebrate God's provision for the whole community and jubilee as a model for sustainable society in which members are not to acquire an overabundance of resources that permanently impoverish others.
In fair trade, artisans earn a living wage and have a long-term relationship with the buyer to build stability in vulnerable areas. Through fair trade, people have food, schools and medical care.
Fair trade is about justice.
For information, call 747-1058 or visit spokanefpc.org.
Honduran journalist visits region in October
During a two-week tour with Witness for Peace Northwest, Honduran journalist, artist and documentary filmmaker, Jennifer Ávila will give presentations on "The Silencing of Dissent: How Freedom of the Press is Threatened in Honduras."
One will be at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 8, at the Human Rights Education Institute (HREI), 414 W. Fort Grounds Dr. in Coeur d'Alene, sponsored by HREI and Emerge.
The second is at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth University, sponsored by the World Languages and Cultures Department and the Whitworth Speakers and Artists Program.
Jennifer Ávila, spent six years at Radio Progreso, a bulwark of freedom of expression in an increasingly hostile environment for journalism. She co-founded Contra Corriente in 2017, said Kris Hannigan-Luther of Witness for Peace Northwest.
"Her work, shown in international film festivals, represents documentation of ways U.S. and Honduran policy from deportations to mega-projects affects vulnerable Hondurans," said Kris.
Partnering for Progress presents Kenyan speaker
Partnering for Progress (P4P) Kenya's program coordinator, Nereah Obura, a woman at the forefront of female empowerment in Kenya, will be in Spokane in Oct. 7 to 17, speaking to schools and community groups.
At P4P's annual fundraiser, "Into Africa" Auction and Dinner, at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Mirabeau Park Hotel in Spokane Valley, Nereah, who has bachelor's degrees in economics and sociology from Kenyatta University, will share stories of her work with women.
For 10 years, P4P has organized medical teams to travel to Kenya biannually. More than 100 volunteers from around the Northwest have gone to Kenya for self-funded, week-long service trips. Its mission also includes safe drinking water, high school scholarships and economic development.
Faith Action Network plans Cluster Meeting - October 28
The Faith Action Network is planning to hold a Cluster Meeting from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28, at Bethany Presbyterian Church, 2715 S. Ray.
The gathering is an opportunity for Spokane members of FAN's Network of Advocating Faith Communities to build relationships, hear advocacy updates and strategize for advocacy plans and events in the coming year.
In Eastern Washington, the advocating faith communities—among more than 140 in the state—include All Saints Lutheran, Bethany Presbyterian, Salem Lutheran, Spokane Friends Meeting, the Unitarian Universalist Church and West Central Episcopal Mission in Spokane; Community Congregational United Church of Christ in Pullman, and Shekinah Community Church in Clarkston.
For information, call 206-625-9790 or visit fanwa.org.
UN Day event looks at issues in Colombia – October 27
Stacy Taninchev, associate professor in political science at Gonzaga University, will be the speaker for the 2018 United Nations Day Celebration, at 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Wolff Auditorium in GU's Jepson Center.
She will speak on "Colombia in the United Nations."
The Gonzaga's Model United Nations requested to and did represent Colombia at the National Model UN conference in New York in 2018 because of Gonzaga's focus on developing their partnership with the Pontifica Universidad Javeriana (PUJ) in Cali, Colombia.
Stacy, who is the GU Model UN faculty advisor, spent five weeks at PUJ-Cali in the summer of 2017.
For information, call 313-3610 or email email@example.com.
Mayan painter shares skills in a benefit – November 4
Amigas de Corazon will host a Paint and Sip class as a benefit with Mayan Artist Benedicto Ixtamer from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 4, at 2007 E. Upriver Dr.
Benedicto will give participants an opportunity to explore typical Mayan art techniques, while benefiting the work of two nonprofits.
The beneficiaries are Amigas de Corazon—Corazon Scarves—which empowers and supports Guatemalan weavers and their families by economic, community and educational development, and Benedicto's nonprofit, Funds for My School, which assists children from his village in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala, to attend and succeed in school.
Benedicto's paintings will also be for sale. Supplies, a beverage and light snacks are included. The event is limited to 25.
Benedicto's home is on Lake Atitlán in the volcanic Guatemalan highlands, where his family is in the coffee business. He is also director of a Spanish school there.
He has displayed his work at U.S. venues from 2004 to 2015, including at Jubilee at First Presbyterian in Spokane. His story is in the December 2014 Fig Tree.
From an early age, Benedicto discovered his talent drawing on cardboard and school notebooks. Later, his father gave him three oil colors and one brush as a gift. With those he developed his art.
After he and his three brothers worked in the fields, they picked flowers, leaves and bark to make natural dyes for their mother's textiles. Benedicto often paints on her textiles, using traditional Mayan art. Today he paints in different styles showing everyday life.
Debbie Dupey, founder of Corazon Scarves/Amigas de Corazon, is available for presentations or private sales about Amigas de Corazon and the work they do in Guatemala, as well as Corazon journeys to meet the weavers.
For information, call 714-8928, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.corazonscarves.com.
Temple Beth Shalom and Congregation Emanu-El invite the general Spokane community for a special presentation, "Jewish Beginnings," at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12, at 1322 E. 30th Ave.
Two volumes discovered in a safe in the old Odd Fellows building on First Avenue several years ago will be on display, said Larry Grossman, temple archivist. These volumes contain the actual minutes from 1890 of Congregation Emanu-El up to 1930. It includes the story of Congregation Emanu-El's members struggling to plan the building of a Synagogue, which, when it was built in 1892, was the first Synagogue built in the State of Washington, Larry said.
Jim Kershner, author, historian and journalist for the Spokesman Review, will be the presenter of the history of Spokane Jewry—from early pioneers, to those Jews who arrived from Europe at the turn of the 20 century, up to the present.
For information, call 747-3304 or visit spokanetbs.org.
Religion professor speaks for WSU symposium
Religion professor, author and scholar-activist Miguel De La Torre is the speaker for the 2018 Roger Williams Symposium of the Common Ministry at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman.
He will speak on "The Death of U.S. Christianity" at 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Ensminger Pavilion, 455 Lincoln Dr.
He will preach on "Was Jesus a Racist?" at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 14., at the Community Congregational United Church of Christ, 525 NE Campus St.
He will lead a workshop on immigration and show his film, "Trail of Hope and Terror" at 2 p.m., Sunday at St. James Episcopal Church, 1410 NE Stadium.
His lecture on immigration, sponsored by the Thomas Foley Institute at WSU, is at noon, Monday, Oct. 15, in Bryan Hall.
Miguel, who is a professor of social ethics and Latinx studies at Illiff School of Theology in Denver, is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. He is active in social justice issues especially immigration and Hispanic issues.
In 2012, he was president of the Society of Christian Ethics and from 2012 to 2017 was officer for the Society of Race, Ethnicity and Religion. In addition to teaching in Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa, Germany and Costa Rica, he has taken students on immersion classes to Cuba and to walk migrant trails on the Mexico/U.S. border.
His books include Embracing Hopelessness and Faith and Resistance in the Age of Trump.
Organizers are Timothy Paulitz, chair of the Common Ministry at WSU Roger Williams Symposium Committee, and Steve Van Kuiken, pastor at Community Congregational UCC in Pullman.
Civil rights activist speaks at NAACP Banquet
Civil rights activist Elmer Dixon will speak on "Defeat Hate–Vote" at the 99th annual Freedom Fund Banquet of Spokane's Chapter of the NAACP. The event begins with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by the banquet and program at 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Northern Quest Casino, 100 Hayford Rd. in Airway Heights.
Educated in public administration, Elmer has 30 years experience as a manager and trainer. He is a diversity consultant, leading teams, facilitating and implementing strategic plans for organizations, and training in multi-cultural communication, team building and conflict management.
He moved from Chicago to Seattle at the age of seven when his father began working at Boeing. At Garfield High School in Seattle, he organized a Black Student Union in 1968, the year his brother Aaron co-founded the Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Elmer served as the party's breakfast program coordinator. He continued the breakfast and health clinic until 1976.
For information, call 838-2605 or email email@example.com.
2018-19 is Eckart Preu's final season in Spokane
The Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) in Maine announced in August that Eckart Preu, who is in his 15th season with the Spokane Symphony, is their new music director.
For Portland's 2019-20 season, he will conduct classical, pops and "Magic of Christmas," beginning with two concerts in January.
While he serves as the PSO's music director designate for the 2018-19 season, he spends his final season as music director of the Spokane Symphony, which began its 73rd season in September. Eckart will conduct five of the 10 classical concerts in the 2018-19 season, giving pre-concert talks an hour before each performance.
The "Final Five" finalists for music director in Spokane will conduct the other five classical concerts. A new director will be announced in May 2019.
In addition to Spokane and Portland, Eckart is music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra in California, and music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in the summer.
For information, call 842-2943 or visit spokanesymphony.org.
Gonzaga hosts School Safety Forum - October 8
Kristina Anderson, founder of the Koshka Foundation, will present an address and moderate discussion of a panel of K-12 professionals for the School Safety Forum hosted by Gonzaga University's Schools of Education and Law, beginning at 4:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 8, at the Hemmingson Center.
"Shared Responsibility for a Safer Future" is the theme for the community forum that will explore ways members of the education community can contribute to safe learning environments.
She is an international advocate in bystander intervention, active shooter response and violence prevention in schools, workplaces and public spaces. An injured survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, which claimed 32 lives, she speaks across the U.S.
"Whether it's open acts of violence, increasing rates of suicide, bullying, microaggressions or mean-spiritedness, violence in educational settings impacts everyone," said Vincent Alfonso, dean of GU's education school. "Privacy laws, the Second Amendment and other legal regulations can permit expressions of violence to continue and escalate," said Jacob Rooksby of GU's Law School.
For information, call 313-3495 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Symposium speaker focus is immigration
The speaker for the 2018 Roger Williams Symposium of the Common Ministry at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, religion professor, author and scholar-activist Miguel De La Torre will speak on "The Death of U.S. Christianity," "Was Jesus a Racist?" and immigration.
His first lecture is at 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Ensminger Pavilion, 455 Lincoln Dr. He will preach at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Community Congregational United Church of Christ, 525 NE Campus St.
He will lead a workshop on immigration from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday at St. James Episcopal Church, 1410 NE Stadium Way.
Miguel will give a lecture on immigration through the Thomas Foley Institute at WSU at noon, Monday, Oct. 15, in room 316 of Bryan Hall.
Miguel is a professor of social ethics and Latinx studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.
For information, email email@example.com.
South Asian Concert will be Oct. 6
The South Asia Cultural Association of Spokane is presenting an evening of classical music with Ranga Tharanga performing "Melodious Waves" from 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6, at Unity Spiritual Center, 2900 S. Bernard St.
Performers include Sivarama Rao on sitar, Raghavendra Rao on violin, Saraswathi Ranganathan on veena, Venkates on tabla and Raghavan Sai on mridangam.
A light Indian vegetarian dinner may be purchased starting at 5 p.m.
For information and to rsvp, call 467-5558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, September, 2018