Justice & Mission invites you to lunch!

April 5, 2023 Antoinette Richardson

Justice & Mission invites you to lunch – on April 16, after worship!

The ministry of Justice & Mission (“J&M”) invites all FHC members and friends involved in justice work to join us for lunch on Sunday, April 16, after worship. So many folks in our community work, organize and volunteer to “respond to injustice and human need” through “acts of mercy and justice” through personal volunteering, church volunteering, community work, and our professional jobs, as well. On April 16, we’ll gather to share a simple meal, pray together, connect across our projects, and share updates with each other. We hope you can join us, and we welcome you sharing this invitation and information with others – we know there are SO MANY folks who might be interested. 

Let us know if you’re interested and can join us – more info and RSVP: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfx8yPBVcvWJT2Gy6FZTmHfd0n-3jb7e0F2oQrCmkDGG6TbOA/viewform

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The Return of the Black History Education Committee

December 19, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

The Black History Education Committee announces a return of programming for the full month of February.

Watch for more information in the New Year!

And Save the Date for the Black History Concert on Saturday, February 25, 2023.

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Immigration Task Force Forums 2022

December 19, 2022 Julie Lustic

In the past year, The Task Force has presented two educational forums. The first two-part forum, “Bringing the Border Home” was held on April 24th and May 1st, 2022. We heard from professor of history John Flores on the topic of “They are Here Because we are There”. This was an engaging presentation about the root causes of immigration. We also heard from immigration attorney, Brian Hoffman about current policy implications for “people on the move”. This forum also includes discussion about work at the Mexico/US border from a Presbyterian perspective and faith-based advocacy for positive change.

The second forum, “Matthew 25 Goes to the Border”, was held on November 13 and 20, 2022. We heard a presentation from Jack Lesniewski working in Guatemala with Mennonite Central Committee ( a relief and development organization of the Mennonite Church) about the reasons Guatemalans (in particular) migrate to the US. In this same forum we also heard a presentation on “Current Policies that Create Systems of Decendency”, by Marissa Lemon Garza, Executive Director of Las Americas.

In the November 20th session, Caly Fernandez, who works with Puentes de Cristo (Presbyterian organization addressing needs at the border), talked about conditions on both sides of the border and the work that Puentes de Cristo is doing to address these need/issues. This session includes and extensive and informative question and answer period with Caly.

Both of these forums were held on line to reach a broader audience. Both were intended to bring focus and attention to what is happening at our southern border as thousands of immigrants per day seek asylum in the United States. The links to all the forums are listed below. Also, visit Puentes de Cristo for more information.

Matthew 25 Goes to the Border (1 of 2)
Matthew 25 Goes to the Border (2 of 2)

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Immigration Task Force

December 19, 2022 Julie Lustic

Summary of December 14, 2022 meeting

Present: Jeff and Anne Smith, Julie and Gary Lustic, Steve Sedam, Sharon Shoemaker,
Nonie Stack, Chris Henry, Quentin Smith
Excused: Virginia Weiss, Charity Stock, Cynthia Lehman
A summary of the discussion is provided below:

Posting of Recorded ITF Forums
Julie reported she spoke with Kurt Haas who advised her the length of the recorded ITF
forums would take up too much space on the website. The group discussed options,
with no final decisions made. There will be a revamping of the FHC website.

Upcoming Trip to the Border
Jeff reported on the meeting with congregational members who were interested in going
to the trip to the Border. At this time there are 13 who have committed to going to the
Border, which leaves 2 potential openings. Quentin suggested that an e-mail be sent to
4 individuals who had expressed an interest in going but have not yet committed, to let
them know that there are 2 openings so that it will be on first come, first served basis. In
addition, the 13 who have committed to going will need to provide room preferences for
the hotel.

Mark and Carol Wedell have offered their home so that the group can view the
documentary, “Missing in Brooks County”. Steve suggested we arrange a time to speak
with Anna Hinajosa who can discuss with us issues of white privilege as it pertains to
the immigration issue. Jeff will check with the Wedells to see if they are available on
January 12 or 13 with a proposed time of 6 PM. Steve will check with Anna regarding
her availability for a zoom meeting with those planning to attend the Border Trip.
We have approximately $3500.00 from Justice and Mission to spend on supplies,
donations to the various organizations we visit. We can also subsidize costs for those
who will need the assistance. We will determine who might need financial assistance. A
possibility remains to use some of the monies to lower overall costs for each person

Jeff will check with those who are committed to going to see if they are amenable to a 7
AM departure, as proposed, or if they would rather leave at a later time. Depending
upon the time of departure, it may impact the cost.

Concerns about Emergency Care in Lake County
Sharon discussed a situation in which a co-worker had taken someone who is Latino to an
Emergency Room in Lake County. The waiting time was excessive and the person who was ill
eventually left. She later died. Another person waited a long time and was later admitted with
symptoms of a stroke. Someone reported that they were told that because they were Latino it
was assumed they were using the ER as an urgent care center and so were triaged as low on the
list to be seen. The group discussed various options as how to approach the hospital to discuss
our concerns regarding what appears to be an inequitable treatment of Latino patients in the
ER. The group discussed the potential of obtaining statistics regarding Latino patients in the ER
and whether they experienced a delay in treatment well beyond the average non-Latino
patient. Quentin suggested that we talk to Hola regarding their experiences and for feedback,
with a potential to have a meeting with the Director of the ER. Sharon will get additional
information to verify that the reported incidents are occurring at the same hospital.

The next meeting will be scheduled dependent upon input from those going to the Border and
information/recommendations from Caly.

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FHC Immigration Task Force

October 10, 2022 Julie Lustic

Summary of September 1, 2022 meeting

The Task Force met in the FHC Library. 

Present: Gary and Julie Lustic, Steve Sedam, Sharon Shumaker, Anne and Jeff Smith, Quentin Smith, Nonie Stack

Excused: Cynthia Lehman, Virginia Weiss and Charity Stock

A summary of the Task Force discussion is provided below.

Emmanuel, Idrissa and Issoufou

Emmanuel is continuing to work part-time at a garage in the West Side. He is using public transportation to get there. A plan for possible purchase of an electric bicycle for Emmanuel has been tabled for now. Jeff is checking to see if there are any garages in the East Side that will give him a job. He is able to do basic mechanical tasks. Supplemental income has been requested from Justice and Mission, and we could possibly use some of this money to purchase some tools for him. Emmanuel is back in school. He recently visited a fire station in Cleveland Heights. His goal is to eventually become a fire fighter, but he will need to obtain is GED in order to apply. He is very motivated to meet his goal.

Idrissa and Issoufou are doing well in Montreal. They both have places to live and have obtained their Canadian work permits. They have full time positions at an Amazon facility in Canada. Jeff continues to be in communication with both of them.

Leonor and Family

Sharon spoke with Leonor who still would like to go to Mexico to see her ill mother. Anne Hill suggested we follow up with Deb Kline. Deb Kline indicated Shontel Brown’s office is interested in the case and desires to be more involved in immigration issues.

Margaret is interested in becoming an obstetrical ultrasound technician and has resumed her studies. Margaret received $500.00 from the Education Fund a few months ago. An individual outside of Forest Hill Church has continued to make regular contributions to that fund. The boys are back in school.

Jose’s work status is unknown. Because he and Leonor are now married, his status is OK for now and he is not in violation. Elizabeth has added Jose as part of the process for obtaining Leonor’s U-Visa.

Educational Program Update

Steve has been in contact with Ann Williams regarding dates. We need to schedule at a time that does not interfere with planned programming for Greater Cleveland Congregations. November 13 and 20, 2022 are available for Adult Education and this works for Emily Miller. The program will be presented in a 2 session format due to the extensive amount of information to be presented. There will be 2 speakers for each session. It will be a Zoom presentation as speakers are from Mexico and Texas. Emily has indicated this will work for the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

Session One

Central America. The presenter is Jack Lesniewski, MCC, Co-Country Director for Guatemala and El Salvador.

Session Two

Sharon noted that plans will need to be finalized soon, as Emily will be leaving her current position with MCC in February 2023.

A possibility of opening the trip up to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was discussed, as they have a new pastor who has reached out to Sharon and expressed an interest in immigration issues. Presbytery could potentially be invited. It was determined that the trip first be open to FHC members, then possibly others in the Presbytery. 

Airfare will be expensive, approximately $500.00 per round trip plus accommodations, local transportation and food. Julie suggested we put out a notice in The Tower that a plan is under consideration for a trip to the border in January or February and recommend interested parties plan to attend the Zoom meetings in November. Jeff and Nonie will assist Steve in putting together a plan.

Quentin commented that the forced dependency that immigrants are experiencing is due to an inhumane system and as a result immigrants are made to feel that their status is their responsibility, adding to a feeling of helplessness. This perspective will be reviewed with Emily.

Due to the need to finalize plans for the Educational Forum and potential trip to Mexico, the next meeting of the Immigration Task Force will be September 29 at 7:30 PM. We will meet in the FHC Library.

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Minutes of May 17, 2022 FHC Immigration Task Force Meeting

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.

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Minutes of April 19, 2022 FHC Immigration Task Force Meeting

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.

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History and Reflections: our Journey as a Church into Interfaith Social Justice 

May 5, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

When: Sunday, May 22, 9:30-10:30 AM, before Sunday worship 
Facilitator: Pastor John Lentz 
Where: Hybrid in South Hall and on Zoom
Description: An informal discussion of our journey as a church into interfaith work towards social justice. Pastor John Lentz will share his memories of involvement with Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope and Greater Cleveland Congregations. There will be time for others to also share their memories.
To Sign Up: https://fhc.breezechms.com/form/a8709f1462477280.

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Bringing the Border Home

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 itf@fhcpresb.org.

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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.

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