Outreach and Justice Ministries
Outreach and justice ministries have been a fundamental purpose of First United Methodist Church throughout its history. Our ministry of service to those outside of the church continues to be the way we most often identify ourselves. Our care for all people, especially those who are poor and vulnerable, is how we relate to the work and words of Jesus Christ. It is our hope that if you are not already involved in an outreach ministry, you will be inspired to join us by lending your gifts, talents, energy, and time to make the world a place where more people can experience, share, and celebrate God’s love.
First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo plans to open its own Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) clinic in early 2015 as a satellite of the West Michigan JFON site centered in Grand Rapids. JFON, which was founded by the United Methodist Church in 1999, is a ministry of hospitality that welcomes immigrants by providing affordable, high-quality immigration legal services, engaging in advocacy for immigrants’ rights and offering education to communities of faith and the public. JFON is one of the outreach ministries supported by UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
Here at First United Methodist Church, we plan to contract a half-time attorney and a half-time paralegal assistant who has been in training with the Bureau of Immigration Appeals. Both are passionate about justice for immigrants. At this time, immigration law is complex and extremely difficult to navigate. The quality of legal services that JFON provides has proven invaluable to many people.
The Kalamazoo clinic will focus on family-based and humanitarian types of cases. We also have an opportunity to work with people who are housed in the federal detention center in Battle Creek, facing deportation proceedings. The detention center houses as many as 300 immigrants, in a prison setting--a bleak place for people who desperately want better than their countries of origin can offer.
The clinic will be housed on the third floor of our church building, with monthly intake clinics and follow-up appointments with the lawyer and paralegal. Volunteer assistance will be vital to our success. For further information on volunteering, contact Ann Sweany at 269-350-5977. Monetary donations, of course, are accepted at any time. More information can be found at www.jfonwestmichigan.org or at www.njfon.org.