Embracing the Stranger: Toward an Adventist Theology of Migration

Speaker: Categories: Oct 10, 2009


[53min, 22sec / 39min, 45sec]


Some might ask"What next is likely to capture the attention of SDAs?"Is it necessary that Adventist theology encompassALLthe major issues confronting contemporary culture - at least contemporary culture in the United States? And do these issues take on greater-or-lesser significance depending on where one lives?

"This presentation,"states Dr. Morales-Gudmundsson,"is an outgrowth of a paper initially read at the Summer 2008 Oxford Round Table in Oxford, England. The overall topic of the Round Table that year wasNational Interests and Human Migrationand the title of Dr. Morales-Gudmundsson's invited paper was'Embracing the Stranger: American Christianity, Hispanics, and Immigration.'The paper, which was subsequently published inForum on Public Policy, the Oxford Round Table's online journal (www.forumonpublicpolicy.com), reviews the unique history of immigration over the US/Mexico border, the current acrimonious debate about immigration reform, and the role of the Christian church in the past and in the present. Although immigrants from and through Mexico into the US share many experiences with immigrants from other countries, their experience is also quite different due to the proximity of Mexico to the US and the push/pull history of labor that has characterized US relationship with Mexico."

"The paper,"states the SDAF October 10 speaker,"addresses concern about the combative and nativist tone of the current immigration reform debate here in the U.S., particularly from the Christian Right and certain strident media voices and even from practicing Christians in the pews. It also focuses on another group of Christians, those working at the U.S./Mexico border, providing for the survival needs of immigrants facing life-threatening dangers as they attempt to cross the border into the U.S. These Christians base their work on biblical injunctions relating to the treatment of the alien and stranger in our midst. Compassion, mercy, and justice as well as inclusion in the privileges and responsibilities of the native born, these are some of the components of what is being called thetheology of migration. Designed and promoted largely by Catholic theologians belonging to the Liberationist tradition (founded by Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez) with its emphasis on a practical Christianity operating in the trenches, these theologians propose that every Christian church, its clergy, and members have a responsibility toward the stranger and alien, one that some have honored, but too many have neglected and even resisted."

"This paper,"assures the October speaker,"calls on Adventism to join its voice and hands to this movement bydeveloping a migration theology of its ownbased on Scripture and EGW's calls for the care and respect for immigrants and their full incorporation into the life of the church. Currently there is not a single statement in our long list of"Official Statements"(on the church's official website) dealing with the immigrant."

On October 10 SDAF will provide a platform (quite literally) on which to attempt a remedy of this oversight in the denomination's positions onimportant moral issues.


Lourdes Morales-Gudmundsson comes to this topic with a 41-year career teaching Spanish language, literature, and culture and over 30 years traveling around the world with her forgiveness seminar,"I Forgive You, But. ..". In addition to her studies of religion in its relationship to cultural issues relating to Spain and Latin America, she has worked with and for the Hispanic populations of the United States. She currently serves on theAdvisory Board of Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice, an organization that sponsors peaceful activism for injustices perpetrated against Latino laborers, documented and undocumented, in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. She is past president and co-founder of Latino Educational Advancement& Resource Network (LEARN).

Having come from an immigrant family herself, she has experienced personally some of the challenges that typically face immigrants in general and Latino immigrants, in particular: identity issues, poverty, discrimination, assimilation, and language. Growing up in an ethnic Adventist church along with her work as a free-lance Bible worker among Puerto Ricans on the East coast and her after-school tutoring program for Latino children in Riverside, CA have put her in direct contact with the realities facing immigrant families and their children. Her work on the topic of forgiveness and reconciliation is directly related to her concerns about the treatment of immigrants and refugees in this country.

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