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Office of Social Justice News | November 2019

Free Advent Devotions

How Long, Lord? is an email devotional series put together by World Renew and the CRC Office of Social Justice that features reflections from CRC ministries around the world during Advent 2019. Witnessing destruction and injustices can often lead us to ask the same question that God’s people and the prophets in the Bible asked: “How Long, Lord?” As we continue to wrestle with that question, we can also have hope that our pain will not continue forever and that the God who made us is with us, now and forever. The devotional readings will be delivered to your email inbox every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting Dec. 2, 2019, through Christmas Day. Sign up at crcna.org/advent today!

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IMMIGRTION — U.S.

2020 Cap of 18,000 Refugees Finalized

Throughout the month of October, there was a shutdown in refugee arrivals in the United States while the Presidential Determination for the amount of refugees that will be allowed was under review. While the Office of Social Justice and many partner agencies advocated for a more typical number of 95,000 (the historic average in the past), on Nov. 2 the decision to set the cap at only 18,000 was finalized. This is the lowest amount of refugees allowed since the program officially began in 1980. We mourn this significant reduction in the amount of refugees admitted into the United States.

IMMIGRATION — CANADA

Pray for Asylum Seekers

A long-awaited legal look into whether the United States remains a safe country for refugees begins today at a Federal Court in Toronto. At issue is the Safe Third Country Agreement, which prohibits people from asking for asylum if they enter Canada from the U.S. — and vice versa. The agreement was signed by the two countries 17 years ago on the grounds that both are safe places, so those seeking sanctuary should apply in the first country where they arrive. But as the U.S. has tightened its asylum rules and regulations in recent years, the deal has come under scrutiny over concerns that actions taken by the Trump administration no longer make the U.S. a safe harbour for asylum seekers.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Canada Action Alert

We need your voice on this issue! As an expression of love for God’s awesome creation, tell your MP that you, as a person of faith, want meaningful climate action – consistent with the principles of the Paris Agreement – to reduce GHG emissions and address climate change. It’s easy to write your MP through our Phone to Action system here!

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

Celebrating Steps toward Restorative Justice

On Monday, Nov. 4, 462 Oklahomans returned home from prison after the largest single-day commutation in United States history, because simple drug possessions were reclassified retroactively as misdemeanors, not felonies. In Michigan 17-year-olds will no longer be treated as adults when they commit a crime.

RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

Timmermans Signs Peace Call

The organization Churches for Middle East Peace sent a public letter to the president of the United States in September, with recommendations for U.S. policies they say “would help bring about a just and lasting end to the conflict in Israel-Palestine.” The full text of the Sept. 17 letter, signed by CRC Executive Director Steve Timmermans and many other faith leaders, can be found here.

Read more at thebanner.org.

SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

January 19 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, and we have created bulletin inserts for your church to honor the day. The focus of the inserts is verses from 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 and words from the Belhar Confession (Art. 2): “Together know and bear one another's burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another; that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness.” Together we grieve the reality that racism threatens the health and flourishing of moms and babies.

Order the bulletin inserts from Faith Alive here. The deadline for ordering bulletin inserts is Dec. 18. For other worship resources visit crcna.org/life. Important note: If you already ordered our bulletin inserts through the church ordering link you received from the CRCNA, you do not need to order them again.

DO JUSTICE

Things I’ve Learned about Religious Persecution

In this series writers share what they have learned from persecuted Christians around the globe. All of the stories ranging from China to Jordan are available now. Read them here!

In Case You Missed It

  • World Renew Repairs Center for Asylum Seekers — At the border, asylum seekers go through initial screening by U.S. immigration services and get legal permission to wait in the country for the next step in their asylum process.  People who complete this process often leave the immigration office exhausted, confused, and afraid. They find their way to a temporary respite center, usually founded by compassionate Christians, to get assistance while they wait for their asylum determination. World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) volunteers, along with staff person Jeff Greenway, made a two-day drive to El Paso, Tex., to repair the front of the building, including securing the windows and doors.

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