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Urban Fellow Learns to Speak Prophetically about Immigration and the Gospel

 CohortsKelvin Mulembe, an advocate and immigrant from Zambia, approaches his third year at Wesley Theological Seminary pursuing his Master of Divinity.

C2C: What are you up to this summer?

KM: I started my summer intensive Practice in Ministry and Mission internship [required field training] with Church World Service in their Washington, D.C. office. I am working with Jen Smyers (Associate Director, Immigration and Refugee Policy) and the Rev. Noel Andersen (Grassroots Coordinator for Immigrants’ Rights). CWS is a global ecumenical faith-based organization. I was immediately plugged into the work as an Immigration and Refugees’ Rights Fellow. My first day I manned the registration table for the “Fast 4 Families” conference at Capital Hill Hotel. The second day, I was drenched in pouring rain with 100 or more others on Capitol Hill praying for our representatives to act on immigration reform. Then we later held a rally and prayer vigil at the former majority leader Eric Canter’s office on the day of election not knowing he was going to lose the primary that very evening. This was my first time going to speak with our elected congressmen and congresswomen. It was an empowering experience.

C2C: How is this experience shaping your theology?

KM: Listening to the stories of individuals impacted by our broken immigration system has opened my prophetic eye to see injustice. The more I read the Bible, the more I see clearly that the whole story of Israel and the whole story of our Christian faith is a story of immigration. There are many biblical references of this. Jesus was an immigrant from the time he was an infant. Mary and Joseph –the blessed parents of our Saviour– were refugees in Egypt. Abraham and Sarah were immigrants. Genesis 20:1 “Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar.” Lot and his daughters were immigrants. David and his two wives and a group of his men escaped Saul’s violence and settled among the Philistines in Gath (1 Sam 27:1-3). Even our commissioning by Christ instructs us to go into the whole world and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom–that is an immigration story.

C2C: How will this experience shape your ministry after you graduate from Wesley?

KM: The church must care about immigration–not just about reform, but also our attitudes. Churches must become sanctuaries in which people who are being persecuted or are fearful of their lives (like Sarah and Abraham) can find solace and hope. They should find men and women who have generous hearts like Abimeleck who can hear the voice of God and extend generosity to the immigrant. I believe that this experience is shaping my prophetic understanding of what it means to have the love of God and of neighbor. In fact, I think the church must stop using terminologies like “welcoming the stranger.” No fellow human is a stranger, for it perpetuates the stigma of identity–of seeing the immigrant and the other.

C2C: Why is this particular work so important for the church?

KM: It is what God has called us to as the church. Our gospel is a story of welcome to those on the margins, the homeless (not just the un-housed), those who are invisible to the undiscerning eye, those who are in the shadows, the uncounted–or those we refer to as “undocumented.”

C2C: What has been the most enjoyable part of the internship for you?

KM: Meeting people, sharing stories and being among individuals who are passionate about embodying mercy, justice and humility. I am enjoying being part of the prophetic voice in the public square and not hiding inside our church “walls.”

Community members can get involved in immigration advocacy by participating in a host of events urging The Obama Administration to stop deportations taking place July 31- August 1 in Washington, D.C.

Health Minister Certificate Grad Focuses on Families

 CohortsFannie Robinson completed the Wesley Heal the Sick program’s Health Minister Certificate this past spring. She is now putting her education to practice in a ministry she leads with her husband called “Married and Engaged Couples Ministry.”

“The class allowed me to focus on kingdom building and various ways to implement what I was being taught. I am using what I learned to keep on doing what I was doing, but maybe with more zeal and vigor! I am held at a higher standard of accountability.”

Blending Ministry and Media

 CohortsUrban Fellow Jazmine Steele is spending her summer interning with Street Sense Newspaper. The biweekly newspaper focuses on poverty issues in D.C. and empowers the homeless community by allowing them to write articles and sell the newspapers all over the city. Steele serves as an editorial intern helping to edit, write and layout the newspaper in addition to providing self-improvement workshops for the vendors to develop their writing and life skills. Steele is committed to using her journalism background to uncover new ways to do ministry in a fast-paced 21st century world.

Check out Steele's articles in Street Sense here

Upcoming Events

Registration for Health Minister & Faith Community Nurse Certificates
Now Open
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Wesley Classes Begin
August 25, 2014

25th Annual Health Ministries Association National Conference
September 15-17, 2014
“Celebrating 25 Years of Health Ministry-Transforming Lives in Faith Communities and Beyond”
Register here

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(Formerly Urban Fellows Newsletter)



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