Refugees, Resistance, and the Next Christianities

by Rafael Vallejo Ph.D

When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.
– 1 Chron 16:19-22

We now summarize the last six blogs around Refugees and Resistance: Enacting God’s Mission in Liminal Spaces (Vallejo, 2020). In Blog 1, we began by defining our use of the word “refugee,” explained how it became a legal construct in modernity and how it is connected with the historiography of the Christian movement.

In Blog 2, we argued that seeking refuge is a fundamental right that comes with being human. While there are international conventions in place to protect these rights, nation-states have also found ways to work around them. As nation-states were being constructed through wars of conquest, borders and laws to protect territorial borders were also created.

Seeking refuge is a recurrent trope in biblical literature along with displacement, deportation/exile, and diaspora. We pointed to how corporate globalization driven by neo-liberal values led to the imbalance that produces today’s refugees. Nation-states create border regimes to protect and preserve these conditions of inequality and racism.

In Blog 3, we did a quick survey of the different ways of understanding “mission” going as far back as the first ecclesial communities in the Levant. From there we saw how the Western Christian tradition conceived of mission through the centuries from Constantine, Colonialism, the Enlightenment, and then Postmodernity. M.W.Stroope (2020) in Transcending Mission: The Eclipse of a Modern Tradition argues that the language of mission is a modern construction unsupported by the Bible and pre-modern literature.

Mission as “resistance and struggle” (WCC Busan, 2014) situates mission within the context of relations of power. It re-describes the world as dominated by Empire. (Accra Confession, 2004) The call to subvert systems of domination has biblical roots.

In Blog 4 we proposed that liminality (Van Gennep,1909) is a helpful construct for understanding the lived experience of refugees. Refugees’ resistance is bound up with place and communitas. (Turner, 1969) It is in liminal spaces that refugees as “liminars” perform the Mission of God. Our understanding of mission will not be complete without listening to the narrative that is playing out in these spaces.

In Blog 5, we showed how refugees who are denied citizenship continue to practice everyday resistance (Scott, 1985) that confront relations of power inscribed in liminal spaces where they are reduced to “bare life” (Agamben, 1998). We narrated stories drawn from the experiences of Palestinians, Saharawis, and Rohingyas to describe how resistance looks like on the ground.

In Blog 6, we introduced a genre called Resistance Literature (Harlow, 1987). It speaks to the resistance of people for personal and national liberation. We asked whether Biblical literature given the history of its construction fits the category of resistance literature. We referenced Jewish apocalyptic literature as a site of political struggle (Portier-Young, 2011) where resistance was theorized, enacted and mobilized.

And now in Blog 7 we conclude by speaking to the phenomenon of Refugees, Resistance and the next Christianities. Where does it go from here? If everything is in God and God reveals the divine mystery in events as they unfold in history, what are we hearing and seeing from the experiences of refugees worldwide?

My hope is that the capitalist logic that gave birth to our modern understandings of borders gives way to an older/newer understanding that the land does not belong to us, but we all belong to the land. The exclusivist concept of nation-states based on clearly demarcated borders securitized by surveillance and other forms of control will become a thing of the past. Colonial practices will be dismantled along with the settler mindsets that are at the root of border regimes. Refugees are present and are no longer elided in our conversations around God, Church, and Mission.

What emerges for me is a picture of the next christianities where people from former colonies are migrating to the land of their former missioners carrying with them new understandings of God, Gospel, and Christian tradition. They will speak out of the conviction that human worth based solely on citizenship is not the Way of Jesus. They will dissolve the idea of church as the sole depository of truth and salvation and will abandon the fixity of one scripture and one religion as superior to all others.

Refugees will prefigure societies based on religious values, inviting local communities to lead the change in creating new zones of inclusion and rebuilding the commons. Freedom of movement, the freedom to stay, move, and return becomes the norm in the governance of migration. The subjugated knowledge of refugees become the places where we look for ways to move society forward in non-violent ways and make other worlds possible.

We have come a long way from the “sending model” of mission and the Western Christendom worldview. Covid-19 introduced a new reality that challenged many of our cherished assumptions around mission, missions, and missional. It has shown us a way forward to faithful witness in our life and experience as church.

When the time comes that we all see the face of God in our refugee sisters and brothers, perhaps then the world will become a place where God’s laughter can be heard all over again!


Rafael Vallejo started his theological career at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and San Francisco Theological Seminary and from there continued on with a Master in Theological Studies from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Divinity at the University of Toronto. From 2011-2016, he travelled extensively and studied with indigenous communities in Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina as part of his PhD dissertation (2018) on “Faith Perspectives of Mexican Migrant Farm Workers in Canada”. He serves as affiliate faculty at the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

Rafael is also part of the NEXT Church blogging cohort and his pieces focus on the experience of refugees and mission. 

Telling Our Story: Resistance Literature and the Biblical Narrative

by Rafael Vallejo Ph.D

Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.”
– Deuteronomy 26:5

In Resistance Literature (Hartlow, 1987) the author reads some of the 20th century literature of resistance movements from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. She tells the story of the contributions of literature to resistance movements. In this blog, I ask how and whether biblical literature can also be considered as resistance literature.

Scholars tell us that much of what later became known as the Hebrew Bible was written in periods of exile, displacement and diaspora. Those who wrote the early stories of christian origins that became the New Testament did so under the shadow of Empire and colonial oppression.

The literature speaks to the struggle of early communities around religious beliefs, tribal laws and cultural practices. The literature of Judaism in exile and during the Persian period used resistance as a trope for understanding the relationship between humanity and their divinities. Their oral and written narratives sought to express how they felt God present/absent in their struggle.

Resistance movements according to Hartlow seek to reclaim the narrative, given the many rival interpretations of the historical record along with attempts to erase it from cultural memory. They also assert control over the means of cultural production ( eg. poetry, theater, the arts ) from those who attempt to repress it through censorship or subjugate knowledge by minimizing its significance.

The translation of the Hebrew scriptures to Greek and the production of other scriptures in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew were also practices of resistance against hegemony. Hartlow shows how resistance literature holds out images of an ideal past and a utopian future. Do we not also feel a similar tension when we do a critical reading of biblical texts?

Anathea Portier Young talks about resistance literature that can be found in the genre known as Jewish apocalyptic literature. She concurs with Hartlow that literature exists as a site of political struggle (Hartlow 1985:2) a space where resistance is theorized, enacted and mobilized. It appears that the first extant representatives of the genre, according to Portier-Young, emerged during the Hellenistic era marked by wars, plunder, state terror and religious persecution and the reconquest of Judea by the Seleucid Empire. One finds in narratives like Daniel the characters of Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael offered as models of resistance against imperial domination. Daniel 2 and 7 appear to have been drawn from resistance traditions in the Ancient Near East.

Closer to our times is resistance literature written by people like Gassan Kanafani. He was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was assassinated by the Mossad in 1972. He started writing his short stories while working in refugee camps. It seems to me that sometimes people are moved more by stories than statistics. Kanafani and many other writers give voice and bear witness to the suffering of peoples under imperialism. Their writings show the political significance of literary texts and other art forms in the struggle. Unfortunately, many of them are not written in English and so those of us whose working language is English are unable to access them. The fact remains that those who have historically been denied their voice are the best sources regarding the impact of border regimes on refugees and the production of new meanings around Mission and Migration.

In Memories of Burmese Rohingya (Farsana, 2017) the author talks about how they use song and drawings to portray narratives of everyday refugee life and resistance. In their encampments along the river Naft that borders Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh, the music of taranas become everyday resistance expressing their sorrows and sufferings. Their memories bind them together as a people and give them courage to hope that their condition as refugees will change someday. It calls to the youth of Arakan where Rohingyas were born to continue the struggle.

The taranas are easy to understand and learn by heart. They are performed with great passion accompanied by hand movements and facial expressions. The taranas are yet another way that migrants and exiles tell their story. Perhaps they can also be seen as prayers to their divinities that speak to what is going on in their lives.

Conclusion
We started this project with three questions: What lessons can World Christianity learn from refugees’ resistance to border regimes? How might refugees be enacting the Mission of God while living in liminal spaces like camps, detention centers and border crossings? How might migrants and refugees be shaping religion and the next Christianities in post-secular societies?

My hope is that in some way the blogs have given us a way forward in regard to these living questions. Peace be with you!


Rafael Vallejo started his theological career at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and San Francisco Theological Seminary and from there continued on with a Master in Theological Studies from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Divinity at the University of Toronto. From 2011-2016, he travelled extensively and studied with indigenous communities in Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina as part of his PhD dissertation (2018) on “Faith Perspectives of Mexican Migrant Farm Workers in Canada”. He serves as affiliate faculty at the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

Rafael is also part of the NEXT Church blogging cohort and his pieces focus on the experience of refugees and mission. 

Refugees in Liminal Spaces

by Rafael Vallejo, Ph.D.

Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it – Gen 28:16

In this blog we shall unpack the concept of liminality as it relates to mission and migration. Liminality is a concept first developed by Arnold Van Gennep in his book Les Rites de Passage in 1908. In 1969, Victor Turner expanded it and attached the idea of communitas to it. Turner believed that religion was key to understanding culture as ritual is key to understanding religion.

Liminal spaces according to these authors are generally marked by uncertainty and instability. In this series of blogs, I argue that liminality describes the experience of refugees living in camps, detention centers, and border-crossings. Here, they navigate between “what was” and “what is,” and struggle between “what is” and “what will be.” For refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers, resistance is bound up with place as well as time.

I write this piece at a liminal time when the world continues to wrestle with the impacts of the Covid-19 Global Health Pandemic. I am guessing that Van Gennep, were he alive today, would have described this liminal time as a global “rite of passage.”

Victor Turner associated liminality with communitas which he described as a feeling of kinship with others that comes from shared experiences. Refugees feel it in their common experience of loss, suffering, fragility, and violence (eg war, conflict) while in search of a better life. All of these liminal experiences happen within the context of displacement, diaspora, and for some, the constant threat of incarceration/deportation. I have therefore found liminality as a useful theoretical framework for describing the migrant/refugee experience.

I propose that in these liminal spaces marked by insecurity, uncertainty, and vulnerability refugees as “liminars” are performing what theologians refer to as Missio Dei or “The Mission of God.” Our understanding of Mission will not be complete without listening to the experiences of refugees and the many challenges they face in their communities of origin, transit and destination. I believe that the God is involved, connected and present among them in these liminal spaces.

Living in Liminal Spaces

Some scholars today challenge stereotypical portrayals of refugees as passive bodies, lacking political voice and agency (Nyers, 2006) while dependent on humanitarian groups to sustain their bodies. Let me share some examples of how refugees resist this kind of representation and how mission is enacted in some of these liminal spaces. Jonathan from DR Congo started his own community radio station in Nyarugusu, the largest refugee camp in the world located in Tanzania. Starting from just a small transmitter, he goes around the camp and then has a daily broadcast of what he hears from residents. Today he works out of a radio station (Radio Umoja : which means “unity” in Swahili) and his broadcasts reach places from Norway to the Americas. “Radio Umoja is independent. It belongs to the refugees,” says Jonathan.

Another example. In the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, the biggest camp in the world for Syrian refugees, everyday Ali Jibrail and his staff serve up to 7,500 falafels on the main street that refugees have renamed Hamadiyah to remind them of their largest market back home in Damascus. Everyday, Muhamad works from early morning till 9:00 in the evening mashing chickpeas and carefully weighing and mixing spices to make these delicious falafels.

In these liminal spaces, everyday resistance is one of the ways refugees reclaim agency and engage oppression. These acts of resistance have been described as “world-making” (Tsianos and Papadopoulos). They need not necessarily take the form of mass protests and civil uprisings. James Scott (1984) calls them “the weapons of the weak.” Etienne Balibar categorizes the migrants struggle as the new apartheid.

A cartography of migrant struggles worldwide includes movements for “the right to flee,” “the right to stay,” and “move freely.” In Sept 2016, hundreds of thousands of migrants demanded the right to cross borders. According to one report they came with “unexpected numbers and unbelievable strength.” Blocked in Budapest, many of them marched for days to reach Austria and then Germany by foot. Others went all the way to Sweden. They boarded trains and braved razor-wire fences and camped on city squares.

These collective, leaderless uprisings raised their voices and visibility around the world. They became a “multitude,” collectives of social subjects who gesture us towards counter-empire, an alternative political organization of global flows and exchanges (Hardt and Negri, 2000: 15) In the future, as more people listen and act, maybe new perspectives and structures will begin to emerge.

Excluded from citizenship, they enact citizenship rights and prefigure post-national visions on their own on a daily basis. They offer new knowledge and practices that subvert our neo-liberal politics. They offer “common sense” (Gramsci) a form of everyday thinking that offers us frameworks of meaning with which to make sense of our world.

Borders along with high-tech surveillance systems have not stopped migrants from looking for a better life for themselves and their families. Along with the rest of us, they believe that another world is coming our way. For me their struggle continues to be a sign of the “already present” and “not yet here” realm of God.


Rafael Vallejo started his theological career at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and San Francisco Theological Seminary and from there continued on with a Master in Theological Studies from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Divinity at the University of Toronto. From 2011-2016, he travelled extensively and studied with indigenous communities in Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina as part of his PhD dissertation (2018) on “Faith Perspectives of Mexican Migrant Farm Workers in Canada”. He serves as affiliate faculty at the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

Rafael is also part of the NEXT Church blogging cohort and his pieces focus on the experience of refugees and mission. 

How Jesus Organizes and Agitates to Build Movements

by Chris Dela Cruz

Why did Jesus take three years before going to Jerusalem at the end of his life?

If you believe the analysis of the Biblical timeline, Jesus spent the majority of time gathering folks to follow him, often one-by-one, often purposely telling them not to spread the word of his miracles. He hid from the religious leaders multiple times out of safety.

The Church, though, often depicts the primary work of Jesus happening in his dying on the cross. If that’s true, why did Jesus have to hide and wait? Couldn’t he just have stormed into Jerusalem, declared himself Messiah and thus angering the religious leaders right away who were already wanting to capture him, and get the killing over with?

He didn’t do this, though. Because Jesus was a community organizer.

Think about it. The heart of community organizing, especially in the Industrial Areas Foundation model started by Saul Alinsky, are hosting one-on-one and small group relational meetings to understand people’s passions and self-interests, then start gathering in followers (ie disciples?), and identify potential leaders who will then bring in more followers – can anything good come out of Nazareth? Come and see!

So Jesus spends the bulk of his time on earth bringing in more people into the movement. The Scriptures depict this movement amassing little by little over the next three years, and Jesus and the disciples running small “actions” – in community organizing speak, these are events that provoke and agitate the status quo to react – whether it be healings that transform individual lives or sermons that both inspire and cause increasingly hostility mostly from people in power. These actions serve to gather more followers and lead them finally to Jerusalem to challenge the religious and political powers in perhaps the biggest Action of all time.

Why did Jesus do it this way? Because in his ministry of organizing, Jesus was amassing power.

There are many who shy away from talking about “worldly” power, especially when it comes to Jesus. Too many people have been abused, misused, and oppressed by those in power, and they rightfully want nothing to do with that. Others, though, say they want nothing to do with power and preach a Jesus who gave up all power, who Philippians 2’d his way onto the Throne, who preached nothing but humbling yourself and submitting – a convenient sermon often from those who already have plenty of power to give.

But it’s not as simple as this.

Because, yes, Jesus did indeed empty himself, taking the form of a slave, and humbling himself to the point of death- even death on a cross. But it’s not like no one was watching.

Jesus spent three years gathering thousands of followers, mostly poor and outcast, the original Poor People’s Movement. Then Jesus gathered all these people all in one place! Jesus did this so that, in the event of, say, a world-altering sin-and-death-shattering resurrection, Jesus’ followers would have the long-standing relational bonds, common self-interest, and developed leaders (I mean Peter finally got his act together, right?) that could start and sustain a movement, and they were all in one place to witness it and spread it more easily.

In other words, Jesus made sure his movement would have Power, which in community organizing speak is organized people and organized money. 

And power it had. Jesus told them to wait a little while longer, just as any organizer knows there’s always logistics and last minute calls making sure leaders commit to recruiting x amount of folks, figuring out who the speakers are (ugh why does Peter ALWAYS get to speak), and of course making sure there’s food (so the women have to pay for this thing and feed them? No, beloved disciple, you’re on cooking duties today).

Then the Movement held its first action without Jesus, Pentecost. Tongues were on fire! Languages burst out like the wind! Peter brought down the house! And three thousand people committed to spreading the Word.

Sure, they had the advantage of the Holy Spirit. But it turns out every God-ordained movement has the same advantage.

This has always been the work of the Church, to continue and organize the Jesus Movement, bring in new followers and build leaders and power through relationships, and perform in-the-world-but-not-of-it actions to agitate the status quo and move the world toward change for the Kingdom. We just forgot what movements look like because we fell in love with institutional power. 

At the same time, though, the answer is not as simple as abandoning institutions, as they serve as a means to relational power. Jesus doesn’t force in brute power to oppress, but you think Jesus doesn’t want stuff to change on earth? The Church moving either to consolidate oppressive power or to run away from any chance at systemic impact are both in their own ways denials of the Narrow Path of Jesus Power to witness to God’s Reign of justice, mercy, and peace.

Local church communities have a ton of potential power and impact just by their very nature. If power is organized people and organized money, churches are one of the few entities in modern life that gather large, intergenerational groups of people -and their tithes! – all in one place, regularly, with built in strong relational bonds and common self-interest.  

But we squander it. Yes “service” projects are great, even excellent, but there’s potential for far greater impact that could do so much good if only congregations knew how much power they truly had. Also, bringing your church into the Christ-ordained work of organizing brings out leadership you never expected. You’ll find people that may not be able to preach or teach Sunday School or lead Bible studies or organize church picnics – and thus not get the usual attention and recognition for their gifts – but just by their relationships and influence within them, they can bring 17 people easily to a rally.

Hip-hop artist Ruby Ibarra raps “I don’t pray cuz I organize.” Perhaps there is a way to have both, like inhaling and exhaling. We just have to be open to the call.


Reverend Chris Dela Cruz is the new Associate Pastor of Youth, Young Adults, and Community Engagement at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portland, Oregon. He has written for Next Church, Presbyterian Outlook, and other outlets. Prior to being an ordained pastor, he was a journalist for the Star-Ledger in New Jersey.

Chris writes about the intersection of faith, cultural trends, and American life.

Do Not Forget That You Are In A Holy Place

by Holly Haile Thompson

In Memoriam – Covid-19 has claimed the life of the Rev. Dr. Cecil Corbett, Nez Perce; father, PCUSA pastor, former President and Chancellor of Cook College and Theological School, AZ.  Visionary, Educator, Inspiration; Tabutne my Elder.  I honor, too, the 959,000+ around the world whose families grieve at the loss of their beloved relatives to the Covid-19 virus.   


“Nutah auwepun ut keshke ketahanit nuketoohomun”  (my heart is calm, the ocean sings while I pray my morning song)   – a Shinnecock Prayer

The following is a re-stating of my testimony to the Southampton Town Board, August 22, 2009.  11 years later almost to the day this same political body has finally agreed to observe a 6 month moratorium on construction, and to enact legal protocols when human remains are unearthed; which hardly resembles NYS Penal Law pertaining to cemetery desecration.  Justice by its nature cannot be divine to one group while denied to another. 

“There are many HOLY PLACES in this beautiful world we are blessed to call home.

  • When one travels to England to visit Holy Island, one finds Lindisfarne, an ancient place of prayer, reflection, contemplation, veneration, a sacred burial place of saints.

    Photo by Caroline Hall on Unsplash

  • If one journeys to Scotland’s tiny Isle of Iona, one finds a very old place of prayer, meditation, rumination, reverence, the sacred burial place of kings.
  • People from all over the world make pilgrimages to Mount Sinai in order to behold the ancient St. Catherine’s Monastery, respected by Muslim, Jew, Christian, and which is to this day protected, because there are people committed to safeguarding that hallowed place, believing it important for as long as possible.

“At St. Catherine’s there is a sign posted plainly for all the world to read in Arabic, and in Greek and in English these words:

‘DO NOT FORGET THAT YOU ARE IN A HOLY PLACE’

“Many of our non-Shinnecock neighbors have forgotten YOU ARE IN A HOLY PLACE, and that the Shinnecock Hills – all of the Shinnecock Hills, is a HOLY PLACE an ancient burial for our people.

“We have asked you to not desecrate our HOLY PLACES; we have asked repeatedly for our Hills to be preserved, we ask continually for this land and our spiritual beliefs and our sacred connection to this land be respected. Yet time and time again you ignore what we say; over and over you draw lines on your paper, trace boundaries on your maps, sign checks in your checkbooks and record deeds in your deed books.  You think that your inadequate attempts to truly protect and care for this HOLY PLACE worthy of our gratitude.  To allow any further construction on this land is to miss the point.

“But I am not without hope – it is my hope that even now you might begin to think with your heart, and you might think a new thought about respecting your neighbors, and about regarding our HOLY PLACE, what there is left to protect of the Shinnecock Hills…”

“If, however, past behavior is the best indication of future behavior, I ought not place trust in this Board.  If there be found one human or funerary artifact, if there is found as few as one ancient relic or even as many as 10 human bodies – as was recently the case on Shelter Island – I am sadly certain that you would continue with your plans to completely dominate the sacred lands of my people, and to commence with your vision of dangerous overdevelopment, destruction and pollution to our HOLY PLACE.

“There have been human burials found on the Shinnecock Hills Golf Course and, even so, it is not held in reverence by those who now occupy that land or by those whose play and commerce continues on those hills.

“There have been human burials disturbed on the campus of the Southampton College and it is not ‘held apart’ or ‘set aside’ in reverence as a HOLY PLACE by those who currently occupy that land, business continues on those hills, too.

“It appears that the human remains unearthed on the Golf Course and on the College Campus and in other places in the Shinnecock Hills are not respected because they are remains of Native People; it seems because they are not the remains of White people whose local graves and holy places are regarded as worthy of respect, construction (as you call it) and destruction (as we call it) in Shinnecock Hills  – a place called even by non-Natives ‘archeologically sensitive’ – is continued with impunity.

“It is my observation that the concern of this Township and its government is to, along with its current legal action against the Shinnecock Nation claiming that we do not exist, and that we do not have the right to exist, continue to do with our sacred land precisely what you wish, and to do exactly what makes the most money for those who deal in money, and to do whatever translates into the greatest ‘political profit’ for those who deal in power, votes and public opinion.

“Where are the HOLY PLACES OF THE SHINNECOCK?  The HOLY PLACES OF THE SHINNECOCK lie beneath the grand homes and palaces and golf courses and tennis courts of our neighbors who have yet to understand that this land is more than merely their passing property investment – it is our life – and you care very little for the life of my Shinnecock People as demonstrated daily here in the ‘heart of the Hamptons at the height of the season’.  It is my hope that you will show me something new tonight.”


The Rev Holly Haile Thompson, DD is a blood member of the Shinnecock Nation, Long Island, NY, studied at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, IA, was graduated in 1985, ordained by the Presbytery of Western Colorado in 1986 becoming the first Native American Woman to become Minister of Word and Sacrament/Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Holly served congregations in Colorado and in New York state, is a member of several churchwide committees including the Racial Equity Advocacy Committee (REAC), the Native American Consulting Committee (NACC), and serves on the Doctrine of Discovery Speakers Bureau, all of the PCUSA denomination. Currently, Holly volunteers with the United Methodist Church’s northeast Native American Ministries Committee – supporting the UMC ongoing ‘Act of Repentance’. Holly most recently concluded her service with 1st Presbyterian Church Potsdam, NY as Transitional/Supply Pastor to explore what an “Anti-Racist Church” might look like. She works with the Poor Peoples’ Campaigns of Northern New York and of Long Island. Holly is married to Kahetakeron Harry Thompson of Akwesasne, and together they share 7 children, 16 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. “May our paths lead us to a time when we shall live together in Peace on Good Mother Earth.”

Holly is also a member of the NEXT Church blogging cohort and her writing focuses on indigenous theology and the lectionary.

Deep Rural

by Catherine Neelly Burton

“Deep Rural” is a phrase I learned from the Reverend Charles Ayers. Raised outside of NYC and in New England, seminary educated on the West Coast, Charles has lived in the deep rural for nearly 50 years.  He describes deep rural as a community that is at least 60 miles removed from a city.  Deep rural is the kind of place no one in the U.S. pays attention to unless there’s a disruption in the food supply chain.

Charles and his wife (now deceased) moved to western Kansas to her family’s farm.  As Charles learned to be a farmer he connected with the small churches in western Kansas.  

As far back as the 1970’s (when there was the staff and means to do so) the presbytery paid little attention to these congregations.  Some of them could still afford pastors.  Charles moderated sessions for those who couldn’t and filled pulpits.  Charles was strongly connected to the national tent makers group within the denomination.  He can tell stories of attempts made and challenges faced by tent makers for decades.  

Today there is not a single installed pastor in the western half of the Presbytery of Southern Kansas.  Garden City Presbyterian is in transition and hopes to eventually call a pastor.  Garden City has a population between 25,000-30,000.  It is a hub for commerce and medicine and provides services that might normally be found in a much bigger community.  If you need something Garden City can’t provide, your biggest cities are four hours west (Colorado Springs, CO), four hours east (Wichita, KS), and three-and-a-half hours south (Amarillo, TX).

Photo by Mary Hammel on Unsplash

Ten years ago, Charles invited the PCUSA churches in Lakin, Leoti, and Tribune, Kansas, into a conversation.  These three churches now function as a virtual single congregation with three sites.  This virtual church created a steering committee and put together a preaching pool.  They gather when there is a 5th Sunday for a meal, fellowship, sometimes worship, and sometimes study.  Their goal is to affirm each other’s ministry and help each become better at what they are able to do.  They support and pray for each other. 

Early on in their partnership, the three churches invited the Reverend Bob Wade to come work with them.  Bob is retired and lives in Ohio, but his first call was in Tribune, KS.  The churches came up with things they wanted to be trained in, and Bob served as their ministry coach.  For ten weeks they focused on communion training for elders, learning to pray better publicly, and how to be intentional in pastoral care when visiting and calling.  

The church members were empowered to lead their churches in ways they hadn’t before.  They realized that they didn’t need to wait for a pastor, that they could be the church.  In time, Charles connected with the Reverend Terry Woodbury.  Terry lives outside of Kansas City but had farmland in western Kansas.  Charles got Terry hooked on this vision, and when he spent time out west, he offered his skills in planning to the three churches.  

The churches got more involved in their communities, too.  The Leoti church will likely be the first to close, and as one step in preparing for that, they created a non-profit called Agora.  Agora is intended to strengthen the community.  

The church building is already used by groups like 4H and community theatre.  In time, Agora will take over the building.  This means that the community keeps it, and it is cared for.  Leoti still has a manse which it rents, and they give that income to Agora.  The church in Lakin has income from an endowment and gives to Agora.  

Churches in the deep rural were decades ahead of what churches in larger towns and cities are experiencing now (numerical decline and struggles with building maintenance), and they may be decades ahead of us in how to be church.  The discipleship coach model of congregational empowerment is one that we need to consider as a creative possibility and not a sign of defeat.  

Charles likes to use exile and remnant language regarding these deep rural churches; they are the remnant and don’t know in what form the church will rise up in the future.  We should pay attention because it may very well be the deep rural that shows us the way forward. 


Catherine Neelly Burton serves as the pastor of what is most easily categorized as a ‘traditional’ PCUSA congregation, even though that era is gone. She serves at Grace Presbyterian in Wichita, KS. Grace has about 350 members and is an amazing congregation with wonderful people. She is married to John, and they have a four year old daughter and a nine year old dog.

Catherine is also a member of the NEXT Church blogging cohort and her writing focuses on rural ministry in Kansas. 

Mission as Resistance and Struggle

by Rafael Vallejo, Ph.D.

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing”

                                                                                                                                    –  Arundhati Roy

Christian Mission has a long history and the meaning of the word “mission” has evolved through time. It used to be that  when people talked of “missions” they were referring to people from the North who went overseas to “evangelize” or live with poor communities in the villages in the Global South. These people were called “missionaries”. 

Today’s theologies of mission contain big words like evangelization, prophetic dialogue, contextualization, inculturation, inter-religious dialogue, common witness, liberation. 

What I would like us to do here is to revisit how different understandings of Mission evolved through church history.  Kwame Bediako from Ghana argues that church history is mission history.  

In the first century of the Christian movement, many of  the first ecclesial communities believed that the promised return of the Christ was happening anytime soon. The goal of mission then was to “preach the gospel” to as many people as possible so they may  be “saved”. Christianity spread from Palestine to the rest of the Mediterranean world until it became the official religion of the Empire in 380 CE. 

Given the diversity of groups and gospels, the Church focused its energies on “right belief” and in the process went to battle against those who held other beliefs (e,g. heretics). Seven ecumenical councils (e.g.Nicaea, Constantinople, Chalcedon) worked to create right language around Christian belief in the form of doctrines and creeds. In 1054, the Church of the East broke away from the Church of the West over  doctrinal  differences. 

During the 15th century,  powerful countries in Europe started explorations into distant lands. In what is now referred to as the “Doctrine of Discovery”, mission came to be understood as “civilizing mission” that went hand in hand with “discovering” and taking ownership of new lands  and turning them into colonies. Civilizing missions were conceived as bringing “the light of the gospel” to “the heart of darkness”, the backward, uncivilized colored indigenous peoples in the colonies. 

In the 20th century, after the experience of two world wars, former colonies struggled and won their independence. People from former colonies started to migrate and settle in the countries of their colonizers (eg. UK, France, USA). Migration gave rise to pluralist societies marked by a diversity of worldviews, languages, cultures, religions and traditions. By this time, the center of World Christianity had shifted to the Global South.

Now in the 21st century, much of the language around Christian mission has changed but some of the previously held interpretations are still present. In “Together Towards Life” (TTL) the World Council of Churches (WCC) during its 10th General Assembly in Busan, South Korea (2013) spoke of Mission as “resistance and struggle”. This is the frame I am working with in this series of blogs on “Refugees and Resistance: Enacting God’s mission in liminal spaces.”(Vallejo, 2020)

I think of Missio Dei as engaging the powers and domination systems that are operative in today’s world. I want to re-describe the heart of the Triune God’s work as struggle in a world dominated by “Empire”. Empire as defined by the Accra Confession 2004  refers to “the convergence of economic, political, cultural, geographic, and military imperial interests, systems, and networks for the purpose of amassing political power and economic wealth.” Empire is what stands in opposition to God’s purposes for the world. They “obstruct the fullness of life that God wills for all” (TTL 45)

I find support for this view in resistance literature embedded in the biblical narrative. In the people’s struggle in Egypt, the narrator shows the fragility of the Pharaoh’s power compared to the mighty arm of the deity, later to be known as YHWH. The same theme of resistance and struggle runs through apocalyptic literature in the First and Second Testaments. 

In many ways, border crossings performed by refugees/migrants today is an act of resistance against nation-states who consider it their absolute right to decide who may or may not enter their borders. Refugees are resisting not having voice or visibility by breaking the silence and showing up in huge numbers at international borders, even in the midst of the current pandemic. While this kind of resistance may not be enough to improve their situation or change the system, at the very least they hope to raise awareness that something needs to be done. I believe our God struggles with them as they travel through liminal spaces.

I invite us to think of our mission as mobilizing the church for social engagement and prophetic witness and the flourishing of all of God’s creation. Should we as Church choose to stand alongside refugees and migrants, we need to be prepared to resist and struggle alongside them.


Rafael Vallejo started his theological career at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and San Francisco Theological Seminary and from there continued on with a Master in Theological Studies from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Divinity at the University of Toronto. From 2011-2016, he travelled extensively and studied with indigenous communities in Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina as part of his PhD dissertation (2018) on “Faith Perspectives of Mexican Migrant Farm Workers in Canada”. He serves as affiliate faculty at the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

Rafael is also part of the NEXT Church blogging cohort and his pieces focus on the experience of refugees and mission. 

 

Seeking Refuge, Crossing Borders

by Rafael Vallejo, PhD

As human beings, we all inhabit the earth as a shared space – The Charter of Lampedusa 2014

>I begin this blog by thanking all my relations on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnawbe and the Neutral/Attawandaron peoples in Canada from where I live and write.

“Seeking Refuge” is a trope that recurs in biblical literature along with displacement, deportation/exile and diaspora. Many psalms speak of chasah, seeking refuge in God, and God as “refuge” (e.g. Ps 46:1, 91:2). A core narrative in the Hebrew Bible recalls how a people fled from slavery in Egypt, a memory re-enacted in the Jewish festivals of the Pesach and Sukkot. The story of Abraham welcoming strangers under the Oaks of Mamre speaks to an ethic of hospitality and  “welcoming the stranger”. In the Christian New Testament and Coptic traditions one finds a story about Jesus, Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod (Matt. 2:13-14). The hijrah in Islam recalls the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) fleeing persecution from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE (which became the beginning of AH, Latin:“anno hegirae” or the year of the hijrah.

Researching migration in the narratives of Abrahamic religions led me to doing mission theology starting from “the figure of the refugee” (Agamben 2000:16).

Image source: https://www.christiancentury.org/article/art/refugees-la-sagrada-familia-kelly-latimore

The practice of “seeking refuge” or asylum has a long history. In today’s world, the 70 million refugees and internally displaced are the raced, classed and gendered bodies with whom we share our common humanity in God’s world. Currently the burden for caring for refugees is disproportionately borne by poorer nations with much of the work being done by faith-based non-governmental organizations.  

Laws that require nation-states to protect refugees also give them the power to discipline and punish, practices that have been described as “carceral humanitarianism” (Oliver, 2017). As social practices, these mechanisms of brutal expulsions (Sassen 2014) are enabled by relations of power. And where there is power, there is resistance (Foucault, 1978). In regard to refugees, this resistance can take many forms from protracted legal struggles, hunger strikes and collective uprisings to everyday resistance (Scott, 1984) by way of silence and subtle non-compliance using clever unobvious ways.

Refugee Studies suggest that corporate globalization driven by neo-liberal values led to the imbalance that produced today’s refugees. The war industry that sustains the economy of rich nation-states invariably creates refugees and internally displaced peoples. Nation-states use border imperialism (Walia, 2014)  to protect and preserve this global inequality while state sovereignty is the argument used to meet legal and political challenges that arise. What is being defended however are not just borders, but systems of wealth, power and privilege usually based on racial hierarchy. Border regimes are constantly being strengthened to support the agenda of capitalist expansion.

The Barmen Declaration of 1934 suggests that the state is not a God-given order. It declared as false doctrine the idea that the state “should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life.” (8.23) 

Prefiguration is the idea that our resistance ought to reflect the society we wish to live in and the social relations we seek to build. When refugees resist the powers that destroy life, they are declaring that another world is possible. They are performing parrhesia, truth-telling that speaks to the precarity and fragility of human life in conditions of “bare life” (Agamben, 1998 ). They are publicly calling out the powers that treat them as non-persons  and the migration-industrial complex of state and non-state actors that profit from their situation. 

If it is true that refugee camps in western modernity have become  the nomos of the political space in which we live (Agamben 1997:106) then our theologies of mission and migration need to explore how the outlander, the uninvited outsider, border-crosser might be seen as  a sacrament of  divine presence. Creating more equal social relations and dismantling the systems that produce refugees can be our way of participating in the Mission of God. This is an insight  from  Stranded: The impacts of US Policy on Asylum Seekers by the Jesuit Refugee Service last May 19, 2020. 

We are not good at asking questions like “Why do border controls exist?” and “Why are there borders in the first place?” or “Why is locking up people who are seeking refuge wrong?” These are difficult conversations to have in church and in the public square. 

It is from refugees and migrant workers and our indigenous sisters and brothers forced out of ancestral lands that we learn that borders are more than geography or lines on a map. All borders have a story about how they came to be ( eg. the U.S.-Mexican Border and the annexation of the Southwest in 1846). 

Interrogating the politics of  border-regimes requires deep work. The use of political metaphors framing Latinx refugees as outsiders, burdens, parasite, disease carriers is the subject of Santa Ana’s book Brown Tide Rising.  The saga  of Haitian refugees’ resistance to indefinite detention in United States’ prisons since the 1970’s led the way towards legal challenges to inhumane detention policies. They achieved landmark legal victories where the federal government was found to discriminate on the basis of race and national origin.  

Pablo Neruda captures the sentiment behind the refugees’ struggle: Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrá detener la primavera.” They will be able to cut all the flowers but will not be able to stop Spring.


Rafael Vallejo started his theological career at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and San Francisco Theological Seminary and from there continued on with a Master in Theological Studies from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Divinity at the University of Toronto. From 2011-2016, he travelled extensively and studied with indigenous communities in Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina as part of his PhD dissertation (2018) on “Faith Perspectives of Mexican Migrant Farm Workers in Canada”. He serves as affiliate faculty at the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

Rafael is also part of the NEXT Church blogging cohort and his pieces focus on the experience of refugees and mission. 

June Meeting

by Holly Haile Thompson

“Mequantash eeya-yan koose-coy-oo…” 

Rememberest, thou, me as unto our Sacred Hills…” – a Shinnecock Prayer

In Memoriam – To honor Kevin Tarrant, Hųųczii Zi, Bear Clan of the Ho-Chunk Nation of WI and Taal’wip’ hoya, Sky Clan of the Hopi Tribe of AZ.  Beloved and respected son, nephew, brother, husband, father, uncle, friend.  Traditional singer, dancer, teacher, a Keeper of Culture; our hearts are shattered.  Our dear Kevin and 340,000+ people have died during the Covid-19 outbreak.  


“Are you ready for June Meeting?”  A question asked with great anticipation among the Montaukett People, Unkechaug and Shinnecock.  My Shinnecock People have celebrated June Meeting without interruption for centuries, historically in our Sacred Shinnecock Hills, the ground upon which the Great Spirit placed us long before 1043 BCE – a date to which pottery shards attest – but a date much more recent than our DNA recalls. ‘David was doing something to someone in Israel in 1043 BCE’; we are an ancient People in our ancient Territory.

The English name June Meeting is not nearly as old as Strawberry Thanksgiving.  We offer gratitude that the good gifts of Mother Earth are ours for another year.  And June Meeting is more; it is a homecoming, a remembrance of those who have passed during the winter, a ceremony, flowers and strawberries.  June Meeting predates Christianity; our holy, primeval ritual might have been outlawed or destroyed like so many other of our God-given traditional ways were it not for the foresight of Priest Paul Cuffee’s inclusion of this traditional Strawberry Thanksgiving into the liturgical calendar.  Priest Paul, a Shinnecock Indian, or “Indian Preacher” as a roadside Historical marker states near his solitary grave. 

Photo by Oliver Hale on Unsplash

June Meeting is now observed the first Sunday in June at Shinnecock and the second Sunday at Unkechaug.  It is maintained to this day not because of any appreciation of our Native Culture by the European settlers who, arrogantly believed that they, alone, brought sacred beliefs to a land devoid of any Divine Spirit; these missionizers who recognize, “…no Supreme God that [they] did not name.”i

Among many Natives when the first wild strawberries are found in nature, we return thanks that this ‘first fruit’ continues to come each year.  Our June Meeting thanksgiving has continued unbroken for millennia and is, therefore, too important to allow it to be stolen away; Priest Paul wisely protected this inestimable rite.  

June’s lectionary begins with The Great Commission, an ambiguous first step as many biblical scholars are not persuaded these were Jesus own words: Go ‘hither and yon’. Soon we find admonitions to not take foreign roads and by the third Sunday in June we are inundated with legalistic equations quantifying the worth of masters over the worth of slaves, the worth of humans over the worth of wildlife, the benefit to those who welcome prophets and the virtuous over, seemingly, those who do not welcome prophets.  We might suppose that there is a transactional nature to the dispensing of Gospel Good News.     

With this sort of ‘wheeling and dealing’ it’s not surprising to uncover numerous papal bulls repeatedly declaring the Doctrine of Discovery – after all, manipulation of people and greed for riches is also absolutely biblical, albeit less dignified than a consecrated crusade: a divine quest.  Professor Mitzi J. Smith shines a light on another great “co-mission” of Church and Crown ii deeming ‘undiscovered’ lands terra nullis, empty land belonging to no one: allowing for a legal way to steal lands and a lawful way to dispatch those who may be found in those lands.  Under Church sanction, lands are stolen; people are abducted, enslaved, subjugated, mutilated, slaughtered and murdered.  To the brown and black peoples of the earth, the deadly anything-but-Good-News: “The white blue-eyed Jesus; Behold your God!… raping people and land in the name of the cloroxed Christ” iii

Baptizing in the name of love?  No, I see no evidence of love.  Those “ye” delegated and charged to go forth without benefit of gold, carrying neither staff nor provisions, might have recognized the general theme of hospitality – as they were supposed to teach hospitality – but they did not recognize the significance of the spontaneous hospitality proffered them by the Indigenous People of the Americas.  

‘Stick to the lost sheep of Israel’, and ‘go nowhere among the Gentiles’; the overwhelming message of this Jesus was to ‘love God with all that you are, then love neighbor as you love yourself…’   If Jesus had been their teacher, they utterly lack understanding as to the meaning of his life, his action, his words.    

And that today the US is sending Covid-19 infected people back to Haiti and Guatemala is heinous.  I’d venture to say that most, if not all, of those creating and implementing this cruel and deadly policy would proudly call themselves Christian; it is not a bridge too far to say that the Doctrine of Christian Discovery is not love; the theft of America’s Indigenous Peoples’ land and the theft of Africa’s Indigenous Peoples’ bodies is not love; and sending people with Covid-19 virus anywhere except to a hospital is not love; it is pretending to be Christianity.

Endnotes:

iMitzi J Smith, Resisting the Great Co-mission, Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization, Ed. Steve Heinrichs, Mennonite Church Canada, page 185

ii Ibid., 184

iiiIbid., 185


The Rev Holly Haile Thompson, DD is a blood member of the Shinnecock Nation, Long Island, NY, studied at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, IA, was graduated in 1985, ordained by the Presbytery of Western Colorado in 1986 becoming the first Native American Woman to become Minister of Word and Sacrament/Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Holly served congregations in Colorado and in New York state, is a member of several churchwide committees including the Racial Equity Advocacy Committee (REAC), the Native American Consulting Committee (NACC), and serves on the Doctrine of Discovery Speakers Bureau, all of the PCUSA denomination. Currently, Holly volunteers with the United Methodist Church’s northeast Native American Ministries Committee – supporting the UMC ongoing ‘Act of Repentance’. Holly most recently concluded her service with 1st Presbyterian Church Potsdam, NY as Transitional/Supply Pastor to explore what an “Anti-Racist Church” might look like. She works with the Poor Peoples’ Campaigns of Northern New York and of Long Island. Holly is married to Kahetakeron Harry Thompson of Akwesasne, and together they share 7 children, 16 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. “May our paths lead us to a time when we shall live together in Peace on Good Mother Earth.”

Holly is also a member of the NEXT Church blogging cohort and her writing focuses on indigenous theology and the lectionary.

Refugees and Resistance: Enacting God’s Mission in Liminal Spaces

by Rafael Vallejo, Ph.D.

We commit to welcome and protect refugees and immigrants.
– Part 3, Sarasota Statement 2017

This seven blog series will explore three questions: What lessons can World Christianity learn from refugees’ resistance to border regimes? How might refugees be enacting the Mission of God while living in liminal spaces like camps, detention centers and border crossings? How might migrants and refugees be shaping religion and the next christianities in post-secular societies? 

There is a backstory to this blog. In early March 2020, as a result of heightened tension in Idlib  on the Syrian-Turkish border where 34 Turkish soldiers were reportedly killed in an air strike, Turkey opened its  borders to refugees making their way to Europe through Greece and Bulgaria. I was in Istanbul at that time, researching Ibadi Islam while tracking this significant geopolitical development as it was happening.

Within days after the announcement, it felt like 2015 all over again when a million refugees entered Europe through Lesbos and other Aegean islands. Turkey justified its action by saying that the EU had reneged on a 2016  deal, where in exchange for containing the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe, it would extend  6 billion euros in financial aid to Turkey. EU nations in turn accused Turkey of using refugees as leverage to extract more funding from the EU.

At about this time, the pandemic started to spread calling for the cancellation of flights and lockdowns in certain cities and countries. Plans changed very quickly and the priority of the moment was finding the first flight home from Turkey to Toronto. Finally,  KLM-Air France flew us to Paris and from there to Toronto. That was March 20, 2020. On March 21, Turkey suspended all flights to 46 countries including Canada! 

It used to be that “refugee” simply referred to people who left their country to seek refuge or protection elsewhere. Some historians suggest that the word “refugee” was originally applied to French Huguenots, members of the Protestant Reformed Church  who fled  to England in 1685 to escape persecution from Catholics after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In the history of the Church, there are other refugees with similar narratives: e.g. Nestorians, Puritans, Lutherans, Mennonites.  

The history of the Christian movement from its earliest beginnings until now is full of stories of refugees. We read of churches providing safe houses for slaves from the American South through the Underground Railroad in the mid 1800’s. The Protestant Pastor, Andre Trocme and his wife Magda in a little known French community of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon who offered sanctuary and shelter to over 3,000 Jews during World War II. In the United States, there were “Cities of Refuge” providing sanctuary for refugees escaping violent conflicts in Central America in the 1980’s. 

Today the word “refugee” has a deeper nuance, associated with legal status and migration regimes of nation-states, with millions of people living in encampments, detention centers, and internally displaced peoples in their home countries (e.g. the Rohingyas of Burma/Myanmar). 

Global inequality, national borders and international conventions by and large create today’s refugees. Hannah Arendt in “We Refugees” published in January 1943 speaks to the experience of refugees and stateless persons in Europe during  the Second World War. In her work on The Origins of Totalitarianism she describes the experience of refugees as “homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth” (Arendt, 1973)

Seeking refuge or asylum is a basic human right guaranteed by International Law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the UN Refugee Convention (1951). There is a growing consensus that the definition of refugee in these documents no longer reflects the realities of contemporary forced migration and displacement. Refugees are not just people who face persecution, but also victims of armed conflict, climate change, economic necessity and unjust border regimes. 

Nation-states today have an arsenal of strategies and tactics to deny entry to refugees. Surveillance technologies allow them to prevent refugees from reaching their borders. In May 2009, Somali and Eritrean nationals from Libya were intercepted and prevented by Italian authorities to reach Italy. They were then turned back to Tripoli. Pushing back refugees has become a feature of many EU external borders located on major migration routes (Amnesty International, 2015, para. 16)

As of April 2020,  when this blog was written, Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis, Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Algerians continued to move towards Turkey’s borders with Europe.  Greece had suspended new asylum applications for a month as a deterrent even as the  UNHCR argued  that  Greece had no legal basis for doing so. Meanwhile health experts warned  that as the pandemic spreads, refugees are particularly vulnerable. The words of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda speaks to the situation of refugees: Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrá detener la primavera. They can cut all the flowers, but they cannot stop Spring.


Postscript: The Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Georgetown University invite everyone to an online conversation on Ethics, Religion and Refugees on May 19, 2020 from 12:00-1:30 pm and book launch of Humanity in Crisis: Ethical and Religious Response to Refugees by Rev. David Hollenbach S.J.

https://keough.nd.edu/event/humanity-in crisis/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Keough%20School%20of%20Global%20Affairs%2C%20Washington%20Office&utm_campaign=Washington


Rafael Vallejo started his theological career at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and San Francisco Theological Seminary and from there continued on with a Master in Theological Studies from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Divinity at the University of Toronto. From 2011-2016, he travelled extensively and studied with indigenous communities in Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina as part of his PhD dissertation (2018) on “Faith Perspectives of Mexican Migrant Farm Workers in Canada”. He serves as affiliate faculty at the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

Rafael is also part of the NEXT Church blogging cohort and his pieces focus on the experience of refugees and mission.