Brave Conversations at St. Andrew’s Ayer

On Sunday, February 10, 2019, Natalie Finstad and I visited St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ayer, Massachusetts to convene a coffee hour on immigration. We were moved by the spirit and courage we witnessed in the conversation, which ranged from the history of U.S. attitudes towards immigrants to personal stories of migration to the system of mass incarceration.

Parishioners grappled with moral and political questions of detention and deportation, the role of racism and xenophobia in U.S. immigration enforcement, and how our faith guides us to act in response to migration crises in our communities and worldwide. We were particularly struck by the way in which the congregation was able to hold difference of opinion and to stay together in the dialogue. Jenny Outman, a leader on the Outreach Committee at St. Andrew’s, reflected, “St. Andrews in Ayer is very thankful to Natalie Finstad and Carly Margolis for leading an adult forum on immigration issues. It started a conversation that our congregation seems ready to engage in. The diverse and strong opinions were voiced in a respectful way, led by Natalie and Carly.”

I look forward to continuing to work with the Outreach Committee to explore where these conversations take the community, both within the congregation and beyond its walls.

Carly Margolis

Organizing Fellow, Episcopal City Mission