Congregational Book Study

You Welcomed Me:
Loving Refugees and Immigrants Because God First Loved Us 
by Kent Annan

In You Welcomed Me, Annan explores how fear and misunderstanding often motivate our responses to people in need, and invites us instead into stories of welcome—stories that lead us to see the current refugee and immigrant crisis in a new light. He lays out simple practices for a way forward: confessing what separates us, listening well, and partnering with, not patronizing, those in need. His stories draw us in, and his practices send us out prepared to cross social and cultural divides. Read more about it here. Join us as we consider one of our day’s most thorny yet urgent concerns, Thursday evenings from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. in the RUMC library, and again after Sunday morning worship.

Books are available for $8 in the church office. You can also purchase it as an ebook here.

Can't make it either time? If you are interested, please take a book and read it whenever you can!

Week THREe: Deciding what Story to tell

Discussion Guide:

1. Welcome

2. Opening Prayer:

Jesus, thank you for welcoming us into your grand story of reconciliation. In our relationships with one another, may we remember our story faithfully. Furthermore, as you have included us, may we also include the stories of our neighbor into our own story. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see your kingdom coming. Amen.

3a. Provide an opportunity for new people to introduce themselves and be welcomed.

3b. Reflect about any thoughts from previous session and experiences from trying the practices.

4. Read Scripture passages:

Isaiah 58:1-2

Isaiah 6:12

Matthew 2: 13-23

5. Watch video for this session.

6. Discussion Questions:

        • What difference should it make to us that Jesus and his family were refugees?

        • What story have you heard in the past year about a refugee or immigrant (in the news or personally) that moved you?

        • If you're telling your grandchildren the story of your life, and one chapter is about welcoming people who had to flee their homes and leave everything behind, how do you want that story to be told?

7. Review and discuss the practices for this session (see practices on pg. 63-64).

8. Announcements: Review the logistics and read chapter 5 for next week's session.

9. Closing Prayer

Week TWO: Addressing Real Concerns

Discussion Guide:

1. Welcome

2. Opening Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross you extended relationship even in the midst of humanity’s fearful rejection of you. You love us even in the midst of our fear. Guide us as we discern how to love you while not ignoring our real concerns. Guide us to seek and find truth. May we be nourished by truth and love. Amen.

3a. Provide an opportunity for new people to introduce themselves and be welcomed.

3b. Reflect about any enduring thoughts from previous session and actions taken.

4. Read Scripture passages:

1 John 4: 16-21

Ephesians 4: 11-16

5. Watch video.

6. Discussion Questions:

        • Do you feel any of the concerns in this chapter? Which ones? Why?

        • Where do your specific concerns come from? The media? Neighborhood talk? Politicians? Personal experience?

        • Which concern do you think most influences people's views toward refugees and immigrants?

        • What is one of the concerns from this chapter you want to learn more about? How can you learn more?

        • What aspects of love make it able to cast out fear?

7. Review Practices (found on pg. 44-45) and discuss how you would like to try them.

8. Announcements: Review any logistics you need to address and remind people to read chapter 4 for next week.

9. Closing Prayer

Week one: Starting in the Right Place

Discussion Guide:

1. Welcome.  

2. Opening Prayer:

God, by your grace, lift our eyes towards holy recognition of your presence in your children, especially in this hour in those who have had to flee their homes. As we build relationships with those around us and with you, teach us to always start from a place of love. Amen.

3. Introductions of people in the class.

4. Watch video for this session.

5. Read Scripture together:

Leviticus 19:33-34  

Matthew 25:31-46

John 15: 9-17

6. Read aloud from You Welcomed Me (pages 1-3 and then from the top of page 15 through the first paragraph at the top of page16 about Jesus being a refugee, because often people won't have read before the first class).

7. Discussion Questions:     

          • How does God's love for us relate to how we love others?

          • How have you seen people be discipled/formed to be more or less welcoming to refugees and immigrants? How have you experienced this discipleship/formation yourself that makes you more or less welcoming?

          • What are 3 steps you can take along the Good Samaritan scale, which may also involve stepping off the slippery slope of dehumanization? (This draws on a concept from the book, so the facilitator may have to explain or see how many people have already read this to see if this discussion question will work.

          • Review and discuss the practice at the end of chapter 1 (pages 25-26) and how you would like to do this practice.

9. Announcements for next week: share logistics of the next meeting and remind people to read chapters 1 & 2 if you want to catch up; read chapter 3 to prepare for next week.

11. Closing Prayer