August 30, 2022 Antoinette Richardson
Exploring Racial Equity Buddies
The racial equity buddies concept was introduced to Forest Hill Church (“FHC”) about four years ago, by a frequent visitor and friend of FHC, Professor Mark Joseph*. Saturday morning, September 17, via ZOOM (10:30 to noon), Mark will lead us as we meet to continue this program. Those wishing to attend can respond to firstname.lastname@example.org or register here: https://fhc.breezechms.com/form/0a3ab6.
The Racial Equity Buddy Program Explained
I. A buddy is a trusted companion where difficult discussions on race can be had. To be successful, this must be a safe space where two people can be honest and explore their equity journey:
a) On the personal level of combatting racism, to better explore racial stereotypes and barriers that separate us, Dr. Joseph recommends partnering with someone of a different background, culture, or race. Our partner should be a person with whom we feel comfortable having a candid and frank discussion on these issues.
b) The partners should talk openly and honestly, without judgment, about one another’s experiences and views regarding race and racism. The key is to listen to each other and examine the world from your partner’s viewpoint. This shared experience, if faithfully done, should bring about greater understanding and appreciation of each other’s views and perhaps, result in a change in how each thinks and acts.
c) One’s racial equity buddy can be someone from the same race. In FHC, that is necessary due to the asymmetrical ratio of black and white members.
d) A racial equity buddy is NOT a personal trainer for his or her partner. Rather, where the buddies are of different races or cultures, the conversations should reflect the individual views of the participants. No black person should attempt to speak for or to represent all people of color and no white person should presume to speak for or to represent all white people.
e) Buddies are not assigned but choose to partner with each other. Help is available in making a match. Having multiple buddies is okay and changing buddies after a while is normal and beneficial.
II. The racial equity buddy concept is a method for enlarging and changing individual awareness and perspectives, which hopefully will lead to transforming those institutions they are a part of:
a) Our premise is that in our racialized society, we all urgently need to be on a personal journey to remove the injustice and inequity in the organizations and institutions that we have inherited, that we depend upon, that we support. That requires each of us to look with improved vision at our role and responsibility in perpetuating or deconstructing the racial injustice and inequity that is still embedded in the inherited organizations and institutions on which our way of life depends. Our goal is to get the members and participating friends of FHC on this journey and to begin it with a trusted buddy with a different background and perspective;
b) It must be appreciated that each individual is at a different point in their racial equity journey. We must be cognizant and appreciative that some of us are just beginning and are not as far along as others in this journey. However, if there is a willingness to begin such a journey, those individuals are welcome. With such a buddy, one must be even more sensitive to the principles that discussions are to be a safe place and nonjudgmental. Some of us will be walking and others running. One needs to learn about his/her buddy and act accordingly.
Other important aspects of the racial equity buddies include consistency, an open and curious mind plus a willingness to engage in respectful dialogue. Embarking on a racial equity journey requires a willingness to explore the history of non-white cultures in America. Be prepared to embark on a wonderful, colorful discovery tour and learn about hidden historical figures and events.
The impetus for resuscitating this program was Deborah Plummer’s book Some Of My Friends Are… The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross-Racial Friendships, which we read and discussed in June. That book reminded us of the importance of cross-racial friendships and discussions and motivated many – both in and outside of FHC – to reimplement the racial equity buddy program.
As implied, the book club works in tandem with the racial equity buddies. Reading and discussing the material of the book club will fuel your racial equity work. The book club introduces various topics and explores non-white culture in a safe, non-judgemental atmosphere.
Our first book discussion takes place Saturday morning, October 25, where we will discuss the NY times bestseller and winner of the Christian Book Award, Be The Bridge, Pursuing God’s Heart For Racial Reconciliation, by Latasha Morrison. The book club adheres to the core principles of the equity buddies program outlined above.
PRAYING FOR CHANGE?
We must do more than pray. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer,
“You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap” Join us. Together we will pray and act!
*For those of you unfamiliar with Mark Joseph, here is a brief introduction. Mark Joseph, Ph.D. is the Leona Bevis/Marguerite Haynam Professor of Community Development at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. His research focus is mixed-income development as a strategy for promoting urban equity and inclusion. He is the co-author of the award-winning book Integrating the Inner City: The Promise and Perils of Mixed-Income Public Housing Transformation and co-editor of What Works to Promote Inclusive, Equitable Mixed-Income Communities. He is the Founding Director of the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities, which conducts research and consulting projects in cities across the US and Canada. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the journals Cityscape, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Community Practice, and Journal of Race and Ethnicity in the City. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, a Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, was a Post-Doctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago, and a Harlech Scholar at Oxford University.Tags: #racialreconciliation #BlackCaucus #bookclub, community, Immigration Justice and Reform, Immigration Task Force, racialreconciliation
May 25, 2022 Julie Lustic
Attending: Gary and Julie Lustic, Steve Sedam, Sharon Shumaker, Quentin Smith, Nonie Stack, Virginia Weiss
Anne and Jeff Smith were unable to attend this evening. To help keep the task force informed, Jeff sent a couple of emails in advance of the meeting. They are summarized here:
The church continues to receive monthly donations of $100 from a person who lives in Twinsburg. She has faithfully been donating to the Sanctuary Fund in support of Leonor for a few years. Another person donated $500 to the Sanctuary Fund at the end of March. With funds available, Jeff is able to send Leonor Garcia financial support monthly. He believes the balance in the Sanctuary Fund remains at $1,209.
Emmanuel has been working a fair amount so he has money for his personal living expenses. Jeff asked for ideas on how Emmanuel’s iPhone can be inexpensively upgraded to at least an iPhone 7, either through a purchase or donation.
The task force met on Zoom for an hour. Here is a summary of their deliberations.
The Task Force supports the purchase or donation of a new iPhone for Emmanuel.
Sharon spoke to Leonor Garcia recently. Things seem to be going well in general. The application for Jose is proceeding. Eric is graduating from high school soon. Leonor wants to do another party like what was done for her wedding last fall but have this party be for Eric and Aidan; Eric in honor of his high school graduation and in celebration of Aidan’s birthday this summer. Details forthcoming.
Task Force members were asked for their evaluation of Bringing the Border Home. Their reaction was uniformly positive. Steve and Sharon presented a list of possible follow-up activities for the task force to consider as follow-up to Bringing the Border Home. There was consensus for:
Task Force will discuss in more depth later:
The next meeting of the Immigration Task Force is July 23 at 7 p.m.Tags: Immigration Justice and Reform, Immigration Task Force, Task Force Activities, the immigrant
May 25, 2022 Julie Lustic
The presentation Anne Smith and Sharon Shumaker made at a recent Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America conference went well. They received a $100 donation for their time. These funds were deposited in the FHC Sanctuary Fund.
The government of Canada is giving Idrissa and Issoufou $700/month until they receive work permits which should take only three months. In texts to Jeff Smith, Idrissa expressed considerable gratitude for the support he received while living at the church. We all miss them but are relieved to know they are well.
Everyone was pleased to see Leonor Garcia and her three boys at church on Easter. They all appeared to be doing well. Jose was working that morning and could not attend.
Sharon submitted an application for an Endowment grant for $5,000 total to assist Leonor with obtaining her work permit and with including Jose on her UVisa application. Jeff will inform Justice and Mission of the $750 of the previously approved Endowment grant (scholarships for a virtual tour) coming back to the Endowment as it is not being used.
An online educational forum, Bringing the Border Home, hosted by the ITF will take place on Sunday, April 24 and Sunday, May 1 from 9:30 – 10:30 on Zoom. Emily Miller with the Mennonite Central Committee has been exceptionally helpful.
Jeff will speak to the 4-person new members class (two young families) about the work of the task force.
The balance of the Education Fund for use by the Garcia/Bernal family is $3,238. The Asylum Fund (to support Emmanuel, Idrissa, and Issoufou) and the Sanctuary Fund (to support the Garcia/Bernal family) each have around $1,000 left.Tags: Immigration Justice and Reform, Immigration Task Force, Task Force Activities, the immigrant
April 21, 2022 Antoinette Richardson
Sunday, April 24 & Sunday, May 1, 2022; 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” — Matthew 25:35
The Immigration Task Force of Forest Hill Church Presbyterian invites you to attend “Bringing the Border Home,” a two-part online (Zoom) journey of education and action in support of immigrants seeking a better life. Learn about the current state of the immigration crisis and what you can do to help alleviate their suffering.
You will learn about:
Immigration History: “They are here because we are there”
Immigration beyond the US Mexico Border. government policy implications for people on the move
Border work from a Presbyterian perspective
Faith-Based Advocacy for positive change
As part of adult education at FHC, there is no charge for “Bringing the Border Home”. To register, click on this link fhc.breezechms.com/form/a8709f1462 and follow the prompts. Once you are registered, you will be sent the Zoom link to participate in the event and other information.
For more information, contact Sharon Shumaker at email@example.com.Tags: Adult Ed, Immigration Justice and Reform, Immigration Task Force, the immigrant
March 8, 2022 Julie Lustic
Attending: Sharon Shumaker, Gary Lustic, Julie Lustic, Anne Smith, Jeff Smith, Charity Stock, Virginia Weiss, Steve Sedam
Welcomed: Cynthia Lehman
You were missed: Quentin Smith, Ron Register
Cynthia was welcomed to the meeting. She wanted to be with us this evening as she is worried about the men from Burkina Faso.
Emmanuel, Idrissa, and Issoufou
No new updates on the whereabouts and condition of Idrissa and Issoufou. They were last tracked by phone a week ago today. Jeff will consult with immigration attorney Brian Hoffman about the responsibilities and risks for the church and its ability to house others who are out on bond in the future. Emmanuel seems to have adjusted well to living by himself. He goes to the Cleveland Heights Rec Center nearly every day and is continuing with his ESL studies. He wants to continue doing work and helping at the Pantry.
Leonor and family
Leonor called Sharon a couple of weeks ago. She sounded good. Jose can be in the U.S. but does not yet have a work permit, so he is not shoveling snow this winter. Leonor’s work permit needs to be renewed. Elizabeth Ford will do the filing, but it costs about $2,000. Elizabeth has done a lot of pro bono for them. The Task Force will determine how best to be of assistance to them in handling this important expense.
With the next monthly payment to the family, the Sanctuary Fund will be depleted. This fund, established through the generosity of the broad FHC family has helped to sustain Leonor and her family for several years.
Eric and Margaret are interested in being real estate agents. Perhaps the Education Fund can assist in covering costs needed for them to become licensed real estate agents.
Survey results and U.S./Mexico Border tour
Steve gave an update on the survey of FHC members and friends to assess interest in the work of the task force and of a border tour in particular. The survey results appear below. There is greatest interest in a two or three hour Zoom educational program. Day of the week to be determined. With Task Force members interested (8 people) plus the 6 people from the task force, a good-sized group (14) can be assembled for a virtual tour. We are looking to do this in April. Considering 3 hours for one evening at $30/person. Will use the grant from the Endowment to pay for those who need financial assistance.
IRTF wants the task force to present a one-hour program on Saturday, March 5 at the IRTF office, 11:30 a.m. to a group of OSU students who are examining immigration issues. Sharon, Anne, and Cynthia will put something together possibly also involving Zongo, Emmanuel and/or Jonas.
New Task Force member
Noni Stack was enthusiastically and unanimously approved to be a new task force member. Welcome Noni!
March 30, 7 p.m. at the Smith’s
Results of ITF survey of FHC members and friends
14 responses: 5 task force members, 9 FHC members
Responses from the 9 non-task force members
February 8, 2022 Julie Lustic
January 13, 2022
Attending: Sharon, Gary, Julie, Quentin, Anne, Jeff, Charity, Virginia, Steve You were missed: Ron
Emmanuel, Idrissa and Issoufou
Jeff summarized a discussion that attorneys Brian Hoffman and Maureen DeVito with the help of a Moiré interpreter had with Emmanuel, Idrissa, Issoufou and Jeff. The purpose of the conversation was to inform them of the status of their appeal. This is a summary of Jeff’s summary:
The immigration court system is beginning to have hearings again. A one to three judge panel will review Judge Horton’s ruling (in December 2019, denying them asylum) and examine new evidence provided by the attorneys concerning this case, particularly information about the extent of the violence in Burkina Faso. The lawyers have been gathering information on what is happening in Burkina Faso and documenting why it is unsafe for the men to return. They have a Burkina Faso expert witness that will help them support what they are saying. Briefs are currently being written and will be submitted in February. The panel could take up to a year before making a decision. The attorneys believe the most likely scenario to be a referral back to Judge Horton for a ruling based on the new information. When this occurs, The Guys could apply for work permits. However, it currently takes on average 4 to 6 months for work permits to be approved. In speaking with Emmanuel, Idrissa and Issoufou, Jeff reinforced that this would be a long (over 2 year) process.
Jeff encourages people to come forward with additional work for these men to do, e.g. home projects. Emmanuel is also an experienced auto mechanic. Shoveling snow does not seem to have much interest due to the cold.
John Lentz is working on getting them passes at the Cleveland Heights rec center.
The Task Force discussed the idea of the men preparing a video about life in Burkina Faso. This could be put on the FHC YouTube channel and would be a way of educating the congregation and friends of FHC about their home country while also giving them a constructive way to spend their days during winter. Action item: Task Force members are to suggest topics for this presentation. A suggestion was made to use an interview format to help move the piece along. It was advised to have this completed and shown before Lent. We will aim for late February. Jeff said he would begin work on this soon and begun by consulting with the men to see if this is something they might be interested in doing.
The Asylum Fund has a current balance of $5,447. This fund has been supplemented by three different Endowment and Justice and Mission grants.
Leonor and family
All the necessary documents have been filed to get Leonor a U-Visa. Once it is issued, she can put Jose on her documents so that he can also get a green card and be in line for citizenship. But, for now, we wait. The granting of the U-Visa is not expected until around October 2022.
According to Sharon, Leonor’s health continues to need attention. She had COVID a while ago before their wedding. Jose’s landscaping work won’t get going until Spring or early summer. Eric is doing better. The younger boys are in school.
There is a balance of $3,443 in the Garcia Education Fund and a balance of $933 in the Sanctuary Fund. Leonor and Jose are to be asked if the Education Fund should be rolled into the Sanctuary Fund or if they want to keep it separate to cover education related expenses for the boys.
U.S./Mexico Border tour
Steve gave an update on the survey of FHC members and friends to assess interest in the work of the task force and of a border tour in particular. The survey should be distributed electronically soon. The next task force meeting will be timed to allow for an examination of the results of the survey.
February 17, 7 p.m., on ZoomTags: Immigration Task Force
February 2, 2022 Antoinette Richardson
The Forest Hill Church Immigration Task Force would like to hear from you! The task force seeks to welcome the stranger by 1) providing support for Emmanuel, Idrissa, and Issoufou from Burkina Faso who live in the church while awaiting asylum and 2) Educating and mobilizing the church members and friends about the conditions and need for better treatment of immigrants at our border. We are preparing new initiatives for the new year and would like to be responsive to the interests of the FHC congregation and friends. We would greatly appreciate it if you could take just three minutes to respond to a five-question survey. Please click on the link below to begin. Thank you!
The FHC Immigration Task Force
(Sharon Shumaker, Gary Lustic, Julie Lustic, Ron Register, Anne Smith, Jeff Smith, Quentin Smith, Stephen Sedam, Charity Stock, Virginia Weiss)
Immigration Task Force Survey: https://fhc.breezechms.com/form/975ed8.Tags: Immigration Justice and Reform, Immigration Task Force, Task Force Activities
October 26, 2021 Julie Lustic
Attending: Anne, Charity, Gary, Jeff, Julie, Quentin, Sharon, Steve, Virginia
Quentin Smith, as a representative of the FHC Black Caucus, has joined the Task Force with this being his first meeting. Welcome Q, glad you are part of the team!
Leonor and family
On October 16, 2021, Leonor and Jose were married by their home in Akron by Pastor John Lentz. Many from FHC attended the celebration. As a married couple, it will be easier for Jose to attain U.S. citizenship. When Leonor gets her U-Visa, she can then submit papers for her naturalization process. Jose can be included on the application whereby he too can become a U.S. citizen. The procedure is complicated. Letters of support are needed for Jose. The Task Force will submit such a letter.
Based upon their input, the Garcia family continues to receive financial support from the Sanctuary Fund. Jose and Leonor will discuss the use of the Sanctuary Fund and get back to us about this matter.
Amanda Craft, from the PCUSA immigration office is working on an advent devotional to focus on immigration this year. They want immigration voices to be featured and reached out to Pastor Lentz who passed the request on to the Task Force. The devotional is to be about two and half pages and be based on the lectionary of the day. Jeff and Charity offered to work on this and have it ready by the due date of November 5.
Tour of the Border
The Task Force had yet another robust discussion about creating a tour of the U.S./Mexico border as part of our efforts to educate the congregation at FHC and other interested persons about the ongoing injustices being perpetrated there and how we can respond effectively. The tour is in cooperation with the Mennonite Central Committee. Funds through the FHC Ministry of Justice and Mission have been pledged for scholarship support for those who wish to participate in a virtual border tour but have limited finances. Sharon and Steve will discuss what to do with the tour and prepare a plan to be presented at the next meeting.
Further task force meetings
The group decided to alternate between meeting in person and on Zoom. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, November 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Smith’s home.Tags: Immigration Justice and Reform, Immigration Task Force, Task Force Activities
October 4, 2021 Julie Lustic
Forest Hill Church guests, Issoufou Lembane, Idrissa Kiema, and Emmanuel Sabo, are asylum seekers from Burkina Faso in West Africa. Their asylum cases were denied in January of 2020. They have been living at the church for almost two years while they await their appeals. Read more about their stories in the Columbus Dispatch at the link below.Immigration Justice and Reform, Immigration Task Force, the immigrant
August 12, 2021 Julie Lustic
Heights Friends of Immigrants (HFOI)
Heights Friends of Immigrants supports migrants and refugees locally in NE Ohio. It provides education and takes action on various initiatives in defense and support of our immigrant sisters and brothers. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday evening of each month in rotation at St. Dominic Church, Forest Hill Church Presbyterian, and St. Paschal Baylon Church.
American Making Immigrants Safe (AMIS)
The mission of AMIS is to inspire hope and contribute to the well-being of immigrants and families as they seek legal status in the United States by assisting with resources for legal services, education, basic living expenses, and self-sufficiency.
HOLA Ohio is based in Painesville with a mission to improve quality-of-life opportunities and empower the Latino community through outreach, education, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and skills development.
Catholic Charities Cleveland
Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland administers over 165 individual programs spanning a wide range of services available to persons from all walks of life across the Diocese of Cleveland.
Cleveland Jobs with Justice
Cleveland Jobs with Justice is a coalition of labor, faith and community organizations working together to promote workers’ rights in the Cleveland area through collective action.
InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF)
The InterReligious Task Force on Central America brings together people from various faith and secular communities to act in solidarity with oppressed peoples in southern Mexico, Central America, and Colombia through consciousness-raising and direct consumer and political advocacy to build long-term structural change.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
The ACLU of Ohio is an affiliate of the national ACLU. Founded in 1920, the national ACLU includes more than 500,000 members in all 50 states, making it our country’s foremost advocate of individual rights.
PCUSA Office of Immigration Issues
The Office of Immigration Issues was established by action of the 216th General Assembly (2004) in order to provide legal advice and counsel to mid-councils and congregations regarding immigration issues. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has continued to expand the work of the Office by directing the Office to coordinate advocacy and education efforts and create worship materials.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)
Mennonite Central Committee in the U.S. helps to educate about immigration issues, advocates for sensible humane immigration laws, works to build peace in communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, and provides documentation services to help immigrants navigate the complex immigration system.
The Advocacy Program of the Latin American and Caribbean (LACA) region of MCC facilities
MCC LACA facilitates contextual analysis, strategic planning for advocacy, organizational strengthening, and strategic connections between partners. It supports local and national advocacy action with partners and churches in the region, and with churches and constituency in Canada and the United States to address the structural causes of poverty, violence, and injustice.Tags: Immigration Justice and Reform, Immigration Task Force, racialreconciliation, Reformation, Task Force Activities, the immigrant