By Shannon New Spangler
This is the third year for the “Hot Topics” conferences at NAC, but it’s the first year for branching out to two conferences on separate issues. Each year during these panel discussions we address important but potentially divisive topics in the church.
Monday afternoon, Shannon New Spangler led a conference on Social Issues: Immigration. The hour and a half long conference was attended by more than fifty people.
The purpose of the “Hot Topics” conferences is to instill a desire in those attending to think more critically when confronted with social and ethical dilemmas. These conferences do not attempt to move people to any particular side of an issue but rather to encourage an understanding of one another and of Christian and biblical responses to such issues. These are conferences that encourage a responsible methodology in our daily Christian walks and a willingness to embrace the diversity of views that exists in our worshiping communities. The Monday afternoon conference dealt with immigrants, immigration laws, and the closing of U.S. borders.
Two thoughtful case studies on the issue of illegal immigrants were presented by Pastor Jorge Palacios, senior pastor of the Iglesia de Dios Shalom and the general director of the Hispanic Council of the Church of God; and Jared Fields, a pastor in transition with an MA from Missouri State University and an MDiv from the Anderson University School of Theology.
After the case studies the floor was open and we had some lively discussion from many different perspectives. All in attendance were given an opportunity to have their voice and opinion heard.
The Statue of Liberty, a symbol for immigrants for many years, has these words engraved in its base: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” As Christians we live by Jesus’ example and by the Bible. Philippians 2:4 tells us, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (RSV). As followers of Christ with these things in mind, what is to be our response to immigration, illegal immigrants, and closing the borders? There may be no clear answer, but we must always seek the guidance and wisdom from God.
If you would like more information about this year’s conference (such as a list of suggested readings or lecture manuscripts), please contact “Hot Topics” creator Brett Spangler at firstname.lastname@example.org.