By Melissa Gee, Master of Divinity Student
Over the past few years the immigration debate has heated up, and often that debate has centered on appropriate procedures in the border region. Proponents of militarized border security have insisted that measures designed to deter people from entering the United States are the best way to decrease the migration of people. However, people desperate for work and a better life for their families have not been deterred. Families risk, and sometimes lose, their lives in order to pursue the American Dream.
Men, women, and children leave their homes and trek the desert in search of a new beginning, believing they have nothing left to lose. This has resulted in an increase of deaths in and around the harshest areas of the Mexico/US border, especially in Arizona.
Border volunteers Ed and Debbi McCullough have witnessed first-hand the tragic outcome of the migration situation. On Tuesday, October 7, 2008, Louisville Seminary will host the McCulloughs at two events as they present their findings to research on migration along the Arizona border.
Debbi, a mixed-media artist and advocate for people crossing the desert, will speak at a lunch-time seminar in the Seminary’s Winn Center. As an advocate, Debbi walks the desert looking for survivors and leaves water in hopes of staving off heat exhaustion. She collects pieces of clothing, mementos, and photographs that are left behind during migration. As an artist, she incorporates these artifacts into her art to help share the stories of those risking their lives to be in the United States.
“I imagine the people as they part with some of these things. I wonder at the sacrifice they are making to help those who are still at home,” she says, describing the inspiration for her art.
Debbi McCullough’s program is a brown bag lunch event and will be held at 12:30 p.m. Participants are invited to bring their own lunch or purchase lunch at the Seminary cafeteria. In addition, Debbi’s artwork will be on display in the Winn Center at Louisville Seminary from October 5 through October 7.
At 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening, October 7, Ed McCullough, a geologist, will talk about the reality of the desert region and share maps outlining the most dangerous routes attempted by migrants. The program will include a discussion about the work being done in the Arizona desert in an effort to bring “compassion and hospitality” back to the region. This program will take place in the Laws Lodge Conference Center on the campus of Louisville Seminary. Both events are free of charge, and ample parking is available adjacent to each building.
These events comprise the first of a two-part series on immigration and Christian response. Guided by an understanding of the Christian responsibility to care for the stranger in our midst, the programs will offer unique insight into the issues of border patrol, immigration, and human rights.
Part two will be held November 6 and will feature a worship service and a program on the stories of immigration in the Bible.
All events are open to the public free of charge. For more information contact Melissa Gee at 895-1454 or firstname.lastname@example.org.