Mennonite Church USA is planning to hold their 2013 Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, with plans in place since last year.
With Arizona’s recent immigration law, the planning committee is now trying to figure out how that affects the Convention. Check out the article in The Mennonite here.
Rachel Swartzendruber Miller, director of convention planning, is quoted as saying, “The question we will be grappling with is, ‘Will we be helping the situation by refusing to meet in Phoenix to show that we are resisting this unjust law? Or, is God calling us to face this injustice by being a present witness of healing and hope in the Phoenix community?’”
I don’t think the right thing to do would be to boycott Arizona and find a new location, and not just because the Mennonite in me is worried about losing the downpayments already made.
A boycott would potentially hurt the government and businesses who would put pressure on the government, but it would also hurt the people working at the convention center and hotels- people who can’t necessarily afford it.
Not that boycotts can’t be or aren’t used as a successful tool in creating change. But I think they are more successful with a more defined scope – Arizona has a lot of innocent bystanders.
It sounds like they’re leaning towards the second option, and I agree. This is an opportunity to show the Mennonite Difference™ in a real way. It’s a chance to welcome the strangers in our land. Maybe do some service trips to the border, work with organizations that work with immigrants, etc.
It’s a chance to act on the 2003 Resolution on Immigration. It’s a chance to act on Iglesia Menonita Hispana’s 2008 Resolution. It’s a chance to respond to the Pacific Southwest leaders’ 2006 call to focus on immigration issues. It’s a chance to live up to our Statement on Immigration.
But honestly, I hope that this is all a moot point. Hopefully by 2013, this law will be off the books, or even better, unnecessary. Maybe true immigration reform (and the necessary economic reform to back it up) will have happened. Hey, I can dream, right?
It’s also important to note that this isn’t just a thought exercise. This will affect members of the Mennonite Church who are illegal immigrants. These members already have difficulty attending, and I think convention would suffer without their presence.