I admit that sometimes stereotypes get the better of me. This is especially true when it comes to Americans. I hear the accent and almost immediately a whole range of assumptions flood my mind and begin to put me on edge. I assume the person I'm speaking to is:
- right wing, or at least conservative
- anti-LGBT rights
- pro-free market captialism
- lacking in global awareness.
It's prejudice, of course, and I should own it and repent of it. I should not be surprised that the theme of our Conference, meeting in Mexico, is so prophetic and even radical. Many North Americans have been instrumental in setting up this IAMSCU Conference, the theme of which was decided before anyone ever contemplated a Presidential run from Donald J. Trump. Now, in 2017, our theme is a direct challenge to the offensive and xenophobic rhetoric of the current US adminstration. We have already heard voices of anger and deep concern about the nature of civic discourse in the US and indeed the rest of the globe. We have recommitted ourselves to stand against the post-truth culture and, as Methodist-related Educational Institutions, to engage more fully in our mission to educate, inform and form global citizens. We reaffirmed our vision of a faith that is open to the world, globally aware and radically connected to sisters and brothers across borders, cultures and religions.
But the thing that really blew me away was the most powerful sermon from Bishop Minerva Carcano, the first Latina bishop of the United Methodist Church. Leader of the migration task force of the bishops, her simple yet profound call to implement the many Biblical texts that demand care for the stranger and the alien was combined with stories of gross inhumanity to migrant children and adults entering the US.
I was left in tears, thinking about how I sometimes lose sight of the humanity of migrant people in the political debate about a 'fair' migration policy. I was humbled by the school children who followed the sermon with a presenation on 'Breaking down Walls'. I cannot think about yesterday without welling up. It will forwever change the way I think and, I pray, the way I act.