When Strangers Become Neighbors

Last Saturday, 57 people representing more than 18 ELCA, LC-MS, and other congregations gathered at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Norcross, GA for a day-long conference on the church's response to contemporary immigration issues. At When Strangers Become Neighbors: Immigration and the Church Today, conference attendees worshiped together, networked together, imagined together, and discovered resources and opportunities.

In the morning, presenters and keynote speakers shared their reflections on the church and immigration today. The Reverend Robert Strickert from the Florida-Georgia District of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod opened with an introduction to "Immigrants Among Us: A Lutheran Framework for Addressing Immigration," a recent LC-MS document. Bishop H. Julian Gordy of the ELCA Southeastern Synod reminded conference attendees that, "We are a nation of immigrants and a nation of people who God loves," and encouraged congregations to advocate on behalf of our new immigrant and refugee neighbors. The Reverend Floyd Blair, CEO and President of Lutheran Services of Georgia, shared his vision for LSG's work in a nation where we treat our neighbors as strangers.

During lunch, Pr. Hiruy Gebremichael, Bikash Chhetri, and Estela Martinez graciously shared their immigration stories. Participants gathered around small tables and reflected together on their own stories of immigration.

Afterwards, Fabio Lomelino and Laura Griffin from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services led the group in a Community Conversation. Community Conversations emphasizes storytelling in small groups. At When Strangers Become Neighbors, participants told stories of welcome and imagined ways that congregations can walk alongside immigrants and refugees in their communities.

Article written by Abby Koning, Communications and Outreach Coordinator for the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA

To see more photographs from the conference, visit our facebook page!