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Author’s focus is immigration, in the Bible and now

March 14th, 2022

Karen Gonzalez

Karen González, author of the BIFL common text The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong, will give the Staley Lectures on campus Sunday and Monday, March 20-21.

The overall title for her series is “The God Who Sees: Grace and Truth in the Immigration Conversation.”

The biblical story is one of displaced people, a topic that students in Bethel’s senior capstone course are studying in depth this year, using the common texts of the biblical books of Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians, along withThe God Who Sees.

On Sunday, March 20, González's lecture is at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel and on March 21, at 11 a.m. in Memorial Hall as part of Bethel’s regular convocation series.

González’s appearance at Bethel is sponsored in part by the Staley Lecture Endowment. Her lectures are free and open to the public.

González immigrated with her family to the United States from Guatemala when she was 9 years old, settling near extended family members in Rhode Island, but soon relocating to southern California and, later, central Florida.

They left their homeland because the political instability that roiled the country in the 1980s through the mid-1990s led not only to economic hardship (lack of jobs) but physical danger for González’s politically active parents.

Few people these days would disagree that immigration has become polarizing – economically, politically, socially – in the United States.

However, González argues, it is, and always has been, an important biblical issue as well. Immigration is about human beings, who according to Scripture are “image bearers of God.”

Christians, she says, have an obligation to ensure their views on this issue are primarily informed by their faith.

In The God Who Sees, González offers stories of biblical immigrants, focusing on Ruth, who left her homeland and was loved and received by the people of Bethlehem as one of their own.

The book blends González’s own theological explorations of immigrants with her personal experience of immigration.

González has a B.S. in English education, secondary education and teaching from the University of South Florida and an M.A. in cultural studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.

She taught English for seven years in the Hillsborough County, Fla., school district and then for two more years in Kazakhstan, before moving into nonprofit administration.

Since 2015, she has worked for World Relief in Baltimore, as a church engagement specialist, a talent acquisition specialist, training and development manager and, since January 2019, human resources director.

In 2019, she published The God Who Sees with Herald Press, an imprint of MennoMedia of Mennonite Church USA.

González teaches, preaches and speaks on a variety of topics including immigration, gender equality in the church, Latinx identity, missions, using the enneagram for spiritual growth, and faith and pop culture, among other topics.

She is on Twitter and Instagram (@_karenjgonzalez) musing about theology, and her writing can be found on the communal blogs The Mudroom and The Salt Collective. She has had bylines in Sojourners, Christianity Today, The Christian Century, Christ and Pop Culture, and other publications.

González currently lives in the heart of Baltimore, where she enjoys cooking Guatemalan food, traveling, watching baseball, playing with her nieces and writing while her cat Scully naps beside her.

The Staley Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series was established in 1969, named for its benefactors, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Staley of New York, who set it up to honor their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Staley and Mr. and Mrs. H.H. Haynes. Bethel College has been hosting Staley Lectures periodically since 1972.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #15 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only Kansas college or university selected for the American Association of College & Universities’ 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and has been named a TRHT Campus Center. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.