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'Love your neighbor': Immigration to be discussed in community event
April 5, 2019

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SHEPHERDSTOWN - "Love your neighbor as yourself" is the second greatest commandment given by Jesus in the New Testament, according to Mark 12:31, and for the congregation at Covenant Church, it is a commandment they are passionate about.

On Thursday evening at 6 p.m., Covenant Church will open its doors to the community for "Immigration Dialogue: The Complex Mandate of Loving Your Neighbor."

The event will begin with a half hour of refreshments and socializing, before a variety of immigration-related topics are discussed by panelists from immigration-related backgrounds. Following this, community members will have the opportunity to discuss these topics in-depth at their own tables. The event will conclude with an hour of informal cross-cultural discussion, music and food.

According to event organizer Richard Anson, of Shepherdstown, the politicization of immigration has made it necessary for the community to come together for this interpersonal discussion.

"Immigration is a polarizing issue in the US, and that polarization negatively affects

everyone, including immigrants, law enforcement and even our national economy," Anson said. "It is important to suggest and model constructive ways of discussing this important and divisive issue. There are various frameworks for encouraging constructive dialogue on immigration."

The panel will feature Alan L. Cross, Evangelical Immigration Table; Andrew Hanauer, One America Movement; Christine Glover, Immigration Attorney for Catholic Charities; Maret Akopion, Shepherd University, from Georgia in eastern Europe; Pastor Rudy Bropleh, Asbury United Methodist Church, from Liberia; Siriki Diabate, Shepherd University, from Ivory Coast; Lorena Nathan, a Hispanic immigrant.

"It'll be substantive and interactive," Anson said, mentioning he hopes seeing and hearing the stories of those involved in immigration will encourage attendees to listen to each other. "We're trying to get as many immigrants come as possible, to spread to all of the tables, so that in having the discussion we'll have a face before us."

Through the event, Anson said he hopes a number of objectives will have been accomplished in the Shepherdstown community: "to bring together community leaders and residents of the tri-state area to engage in informed and constructive dialogue and learning on real immigration issues, to share approaches which can enhance our motivation and skills to communicate more constructively and inclusively in addressing [this] complex and divisive subject . . . and to encourage constructive follow-up attitudes and actions in our community spheres of influence, which can contribute positively to improved enabling conditions for comprehensive immigration reform, such as study groups on immigration held at the church/community level, befriending immigrants, well-informed and balanced advocacy and collaborating with other like-minded community/advocacy groups in other parts of the U.S.

"Join us as we bring together community leaders and residents of the tri-state area to engage in informed and constructive discussion," Anson said, mentioning attendees need to RSVP to the event by April 9. "We need to have a better conversation!"

Covenant Church is located at 7485 Shepherdstown Pike in Shepherdstown. For more information or to RSVP, call 304-876-2212 or email jjames@covenant-mail.com.

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