Immigration Discussions to be held throughout North Alabama Conference


After Bishop Will Willimon posted his weekly message entitled “An Open Letter” and Rev. Matt Lacey posted a Mission and Advocacy Blog entitled "In the World, But Not of the World,"  there has been much discussion about Alabama HB 56 (Alabama's new immigration law) through comments on the North Alabama Conference website.

In light of this active topic of discussion, there are some Immigration Discussions planned throughout the North Alabama Conference where United Methodists may gather face to face and further discuss the law.

Director of Mission and Advocacy Rev. Matt Lacey explained in a recent blog post “This will be a time of worship, discussion, and prayer as we seek to discern how we can respond to this law in light of our faith and denomination.” He added, “We hope this will be a civil, prayerful, and respectful exploration of the law among those gathered.”

Discussions are being planned in different geographical locations throughout the Conference.

The first discussion will be Tuesday, June 28, at 6:30 p.m. at Highlands UMC in Birmingham.

Other discussions will be held throughout the summer. These include the following:

  • Monday, July 18, 2011, in Huntsville
  • Monday, August 22, 2011, at Holt UMC in Tuscaloosa
  • There will also be a discussion planned at a location in the Southeast District

Bishop Will Willimon notes that over the last few weeks, this issue has brought together many religious groups. He told a reporter recently, “I had seen no issue on which more religious groups were joined than this one, with the lead given by the Catholics and the rest of us joining in. It's quite remarkable. A wide array of Alabama Christians have come together to challenge this new immigration law."

As further food for thought, Bishop Willimon notes, “I thought this was an interesting column by our Baptist friend, Jim Evans."


1. Sandra Gerhardt wrote on 6/24/2011 12:53:54 PM
This is great! Are there no plans for a meeting anywhere near Pell City? Hope so!
2. Sandra Gerhardt wrote on 6/24/2011 12:56:59 PM
3. Herb wrote on 6/24/2011 11:54:39 PM
Thanks Bishop for sharing Jim Evans outstanding article. He is one of my favorite writers and my favorite baptist writer.
4. Betty Peeler wrote on 6/25/2011 2:47:01 PM
I read Jim Evans marvelous article in The Huntsville Times on 6/19. How right he is! We had a good discussion about it in my Sunday School class at First United Methodist Church that morning and it has been the subject of discussion everywhere I have been this week.
5. Dick Stanford wrote on 6/27/2011 4:21:55 PM
I wonder if Bishop Willimon and Reverend Lacey consider the diverse membership of the North Alabama Conference to be one of the “religious groups” that has been “brought together” by the immigration law issue? If so, I’m curious how they determined this, especially since these discussions are being held only AFTER the war has been declared. I think that the only “religious groups” who have been brought together on this issue are LIKE-MINDED SUBGROUPS within these organizations, who of course feel that theirs is the only true Christian perspective, and who push for the Church “to speak as one”, regardless of our Conference’s diversity. If anyone is under the delusion that all members of the North Alabama Conference are “together” on this issue, then they are mistaken. They also should recognize that, unfortunately, some of those who may have felt that their different opinions would have had any impact on those who already “have spoken for us all”, realize that this is not the case.
6. Matt Lacey wrote on 6/29/2011 11:30:15 AM
Dick, Thanks for your comments. Actually, somewhat beyond our control, the media reported our letter as a "Methodist response" instead of "a group of Methodist clergy who signed the letter". I would encourage you to attend one of the discussions if you are able to make it. We had a wonderful session last night with people of many different opinions, and I think most left a more holistic view of the new law and differing opinions.
7. Dick Stanford wrote on 6/29/2011 5:26:13 PM
Matt, thanks for your response, and I'm glad that you had both a good turnout and a variety of opinions expressed. I think that it is very important for all of us in the Conference to recognize that there are legitimate differences of opinion on this volatile issue, and that neither side should feel that it has a monopoly on the truth, or on Christian motivation and values.
8. Carol Gullatt wrote on 7/26/2011 6:29:19 PM
Dick, as I did on the other blog, I want to encourage you and others here to make sure and get a copy of our Social Principles. The Cokesbury store has a small paperback edition. This is a helpful tool which conveys the official position of the church as determined by the General Conference. Maybe you already have a copy since it is in the Book of Discipline too. Do you have one?