Evangelicals for Social Action, new staff, resources on reconciliation & immigration

Dr. Ron Sider started ESA more than 40 years ago because he believed that much of the church was on the wrong side of the civil rights movement. With the help of friends like you, Dr. Sider built ESA to champion social justice as integral to evangelism and holistic ministry. The heritage of ESA and the gospel of Jesus Christ invites all of us to do something significant for racial justice and racial reconciliation amidst the deepening divisions across America, and here’s a little of what we’re doing.mpicoslee1.jpg

Dr. Mayra Picos-Lee Joins the Team!

We are so pleased to announce that Dr. Mayra Picos-Lee has joined the ESA team as Coordinator of Latina/o Initiatives. Originally from Tampico, México, Dr. Picos-Lee teaches pastoral care and counseling & marriage and family systems for Palmer Seminary’s Master’s and Doctoral programs. She is also engaged in teaching abroad, having taught at Universidad Peruana Union in Lima, Peru (family systems models and psychotherapy), and at pastoral counseling conferences in Guadalajara and Chiapas, Mexico. In addition, she leads a travel course each year to Tijuana, México, where students experience firsthand the issues at the U.S.-Mexico border by volunteering at Deborah’s House, an organization assisting victims of domestic violence. Students also meet with U.S. officials and advocates of undocumented persons encountering human rights abuses. Dr. Picos-Lee has extensive experience working as a counselor for bicultural and immigrant families.

Major projects that Dr. Picos-Lee and the Sider Center are working on include developing a Spanish-language graduate degree program for Spanish-speaking pastors and missionaries in North, Central, and South America, and helping Latina/o churches host Spanish-speaking Family Advocates who will help network their members with social services in their communities. We are deeply grateful that she has joined the Sider Center/ESA team and are excited about the new avenues of Spirit-led transformation that are opening up before us.

New Immigration Curriculum for Churches

The ESA team recently completed and published As the Citizen Among Us: Loving the Immigrant as Ourselves, a study/action guide for local churches that we are very proud of and hope you use in your church! The guide was written primarily by Sider Scholar alum Rebecca Baik, who dealt with immigration issues as a volunteer in Tijuana with Dr. Picos-Lee and as a workshop facilitator with the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia; she now works at a law firm specializing in immigration, where she says she’s using many of the research and writing skills she developed through her work with ESA. As the Citizen Among Us is a seven-week curriculum that helps churches address immigration in theologically informed and practical ways.

Excellent Racial Reconciliation Curriculum for Churches

ESA convened a workshop called “Church as Reconciler,” where around thirty church leaders of ethnically and denominationally diverse backgrounds gathered together to explore more deeply the practical role that churches can play in seeking racial justice and reconciliation. We did this in partnership with Keith Wilburn and Angel Halstead of Bridgetown Fellowship in Coatesville, Pennsylvania—not far from the site of the lynching of Zachariah Walker, an African American steelworker who was burned alive by a mob of 5,000 in 1911.

Throughout the coming year, we will continue this work by convening diverse church leaders (mostly Euro-American, African-American, and Latina/o, but all are welcome) for difficult conversations about economic inequality, the continuing legacy of racism in both our communities and churches, and how we can be ministers of reconciliation. We will be sharing our almost-finalized church resource called Church as Reconciler, an eight-week curriculum that focuses on racial justice and racial reconciliation, and we encourage you to use it in your church as well.

Another school year has ended, and we reflect with gratitude on all that God has done in our lives and at ESA over the past year. Today, I invite you to join us in the work ahead by becoming a monthly partner. Our monthly partners pray for us regularly and make a monthly financial contribution to the organization. Your support will make the critical difference as we welcome Dr. Picos-Lee to the team and work together to heed the call of Christ to make his radical love visible on the borders, in local churches, and in important dialogues about race and ethnicity. If you will join us as a partner now, please sign-up here. As always, we are here to pray for you and with you, so please do reach out to us with any concerns that you would like us to pray over at staff meetings.

With much love and gratitude,

Paul Alexander, PhD
Director & President, Sider Center for Ministry and Public Policy
Evangelicals for Social Action