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 Church's ministry for the hungry, called You Are Not Alone (YANA), provides a free home-cooked meal at 5:30 p.m. every Sunday in the lower level Wesley Hall. YANA welcomes helping hands to set-up, prepare food, greet guests, and clean-up. Please contact Ray and Ann Sweany at (269) 350-5977 if you are interested in helping. YANA's mission statement: Acknowledging that all people are created in God's image, we are committed to providing nourishment and a safe haven on Sunday evenings. Together, we hope to build a beloved community as we listen to each other's life stories and encourage each other's gifts. We invite all who value a community without boundaries to collaborate with us in YANA as we engage in the mission of the greater church. Opening our doors to all, we give out of our abundance as we lean on God for direction.
First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo will open its Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) clinic in November 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.
Journey of Immigration
The Justice Team JFON task force is guiding our congregation toward better understanding of our international character. Please share about your own family's immigration expereinces by clicking the link below. Your answers can be typed right into the form. Click "submit" at the bottom when you are done!