“A church that is unable to mediate the relations between immigrant and native-born people neglects essential biblical principles and exposes itself to internal strife, loss of membership, and a decline in relevance as an institution of social cohesion. ”
This project investigates the possibilities and the limitations of Christianity in expanding bonds of solidarity and identity across differences of nationality, race, and ethnicity. Building on an on-going partnership between a public university, a multi-faith group of volunteers, and six Christian congregations in Baltimore, Maryland, the project team will implement and analyze faith community dialogues that bring together people of different backgrounds to share personal stories, feelings, and thoughts about immigration; to reflect on differences and commonalities between immigrants and those born in the United States; and to deliberate on collaborative action to advance common interests and shared values. Three dialogues will be conducted, between: (1) a Latino Catholic congregation and a White American Catholic congregation; (2) a White American Evangelical congregation and a non-denominational Latino congregation with Baptist roots; (3) a Latino Methodist congregation and a White American Methodist congregation. The analysis will follow a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative analysis of demographic and attitudinal data generated through participant surveys with qualitative analysis of dialogue transcripts and participant observation of collaborative actions by participants. The project will result in a guide for faith community dialogues on immigration for the general public and a scholarly book on Christian cosmopolitanism.