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The Immigrant Industrial Complex: America, You Must be Born Again! – By Steve Pavey, Ph.D.

In Refugees & Immigration, Uncategorized on April 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

PRISM Magazine (March/April 2013)


But what can I—or any of us citizens without real political power—do? According to Steve Pavey, our cover story writer who has been fighting alongside undocumented immigrants for the last three years, it’s not complicated. We can walk in solidarity with them, acknowledge our common humanity, and recognize christ in them.

“As i live and work with undocu- mented migrants,” says Pavey, “I’m with Jesus. I’ve learned that they do not need saving—I do! The biggest challenge for me is facing my own complicity in a global political-economic order that sins against migrants everyday. Standing against this system—which benefits me—will necessitate suffering and solidarity with the least of these.”

“Solidarity,” he continues, “asks not what we can do for them but whether we are willing to walk the road with them.  Herein lies the opportunity to walk with Christ.”

– Reflections from the Editor, Kristyn Komarnicki

Read the Full Article here:

Click to access MA13-PRISM-Full-Small.pdf

Proud of our Research Intern, Pedro Santiago, who presented his research at the 2013 SFAA Meeting

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2013 at 12:41 pm

CO_SFAA_Pedro poster-2


The Limitations of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): The Reality on the Ground

Santiago Martinez, Pedro (University of Kentucky) and Steve Pavey, Ph.D. (One Horizon Institute)

This poster explores the lived experience of undocumented immigrants in relation to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy announced on June 15, 2012. The research that informs this poster examines the following questions:  What are the diverse perspectives from the undocumented community of the meaning and impact of this policy?  What have the experiences been for DACA-eligible youth of the application process?  What are the opinions of the undocumented community of the potential impacts for change in their quality of life because of the DACA policy?  This research utilizes semi-structured interviews, participant observation, news articles and social media.

Screen shot 2013-04-01 at 12.47.53 PM

Book Published by Steve Pavey in the The American Society of Missiology Series

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

In July 2011, Dr. Steve Pavey published a book based on his ethnographic research of Hong Kong theologies embodied within the political-economic context of the Hong Kong transition from British to Chinese power.

Theologies of Power and Crisis: Envisioning / Embodying Christianity in Hong Kong
By Stephen Pavey

Book Description

Theologies of Power and Crisis provides a case study for Eric Wolf’s research directive to better comprehend the interplay of cultural (webs of meaning) and material (webs of power) forms of social life. More specifically, the book demonstrates how theological discourse and practice engage with historical and material relations of power. It has been normative to speak of power in terms of political and economic processes and theology in terms of interpretive and symbolic experiences. This work breaks new ground by linking theological ideas with political-economic processes in terms of the structural relations of power.

Ethnographically, this research investigates the theological processes of Hong Kong Chinese Christians during a period of significant social change and crisis, precipitated by the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. It shows how local Christians and Christian institutions mediated the significant regional, national, and transnational forces of political-economic change by connecting theological practice to the structural relations of power. The Christian response was a contested process closely intertwined with the broader contested processes of social organization.

This study develops an understanding of Christianity that goes beyond ecclesiastical hegemony to encompass struggles over human practice, meaning, and representation in relation to the changing political-economic context. These findings implicate religious ideas and practice as significant to an understanding of social inequalities and powerlessness by connecting ideologies to material conditions. Christian ideas may be used to legitimize an oppressive social order or they may be used to liberate those who are oppressed. Issues related to the policies and practice of development should take seriously the role of religious beliefs and practices.

Endorsements & Review

“I was drawn to anthropology in the early 1980s through the work of such cutting-edge anthropologists/missiologists as Charles Kraft, Jacob Loewen, Charles Tabor, Alan Tippett, and Ralph Winter. While obviously influenced by these early innovators, Stephen Pavey is part of a new era of younger missiologically informed anthropologists. His ethnographic study of the church in Hong Kong is both anthropologically sound and missiologically important, and is a great addition to the small yet growing literature on the anthropology of Christianity.”

-Steven Ybarrola
Professor of Cultural Anthropology
Asbury Theological Seminary

“With Theologies of Power and Crisis Pavey successfully extends anthropological analysis to new realms as he contributes to our understanding of Christian Asia. He demonstrates the intellectual value of ethnography in our quest to understand the world around us. It is an excellent example of anthropology engaged in the world. Perhaps this work will teach and influence those involved with cross-cultural practices in a variety of settings.”

-from the afterword by John van Willigen
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
University of Kentucky

Learn more or purchase at:

Facilitating School for Conversion at Koinonia Partners

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Last November Koinonia Partners hosted its sixth School for Conversion, a weekend course centered on Christianity as a way of life, based on radical discipleship and community. This SFC was facilitated by Steve Pavey of Communality in Lexington, Kentucky, and also featured a session led by Anton Flores of Alterna in La Grange, Georgia. Both Steve and Anton wove the theme of immigration and the need for hospitality to and solidarity with migrants into the discussion of following Jesus.  Not only did the participants gain inspiration, but they also gave us life with joy and eagerness to pursue the Kingdom in our communities. You can join this conversation by reading School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism edited by our friends at Rutba House.

Learn more at:

“Out of the Shadows and Into the Light” – Article Published in PRISM Magazine

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Dr. Steve Pavey published a theological reflection on the immigrant youth right’s movement in the May/June 2011 issue of ESA’s PRISM magazine.  The article, “Out of the Shadows and Into the Light,” begins with a question asked by Howard Thurman in 1948:

What do the teachings of Jesus have to say “to those who stand with their backs against the wall?” asked Howard Thurman when addressing the African American experience of racism and violence of the 1940s. His answer and challenge, in his Jesus and the Disinherited, shaped the civil rights movement. The good news revealed in the teachings and life of Jesus is, wrote Thurman, “that fear, deception, and hatred, the three hounds of hell that track the trail of the disinherited, need have no dominion over them.” Jesus reveals the power of love, for self and others, that enables us to overcome relations of inequality that are perpetuated by fear, deception, and hate.

Fast forward 60 years to today’s growing nativism, xenophobia, and violence surrounding the presence of immigrants in the United States, and Thurman’s analysis of the lives of the disinherited is equally compelling here and now to those who have their backs against the wall. The experience of inequality and violence among immigrants is exacerbated for the 11.8 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Nearly 20 years ago anthropologist Leo Chavez described the “shadowed lives” of undocumented immigrants. With the growing public antipathy and the media construction of the “Latino threat,” living in the shadows remains an apt description and continues to be marked by the same fears and survival techniques of deception described by Thurman.

Steve ends the article with this missiological challenge:

“For us, the privileged and powerful, a radical conversion will mean discerning Jesus in the disinherited undocumented immigrants in our midst. We must repent of our anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy, seek a conversion of the broken immigration system that persecutes the immigrant community (in whom Jesus himself dwells), and begin to walk with our marginalized brothers and sisters, joining them in the light–– even as they experience a conversion from fear to freedom.”

2011 PRISM – May.June.2011

Participatory Action Research Project with Latino/a Youth in Kentucky

In Community, Culture, Refugees & Immigration, Uncategorized on October 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm

In partnership with the Bluegrass Community and Technical College & the University of Kentucky, Dr. Steve Pavey facilitated a week long participatory action research project at the LLCEC (Latino Leadership College Experience Camp).  The youth called their project,  “Walk a Mile in Our Chanclas:  Nuestra Lucha as Undocumented Students in Kentucky.”  Dr. Pavey hopes this pilot project will be the seed that grows into a regular program he is calling the Artivism Research Collective.

A.R.C. – Artivism Research Collective

Artist + Activist + Researcher = Bending Towards Justice

 “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
–  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The artivist (artist +activist) uses her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary.  The artivist merges commitment to freedom and justice with the pen, the lens, the brush, the voice, the body, and the imagination.  The artivist knows that to make an observation is to have an obligation.”
–  M.K. Asante, Jr. (Its Bigger than Hip Hop)

“The silenced are not just incidental to the curiosity of the researcher but are the masters of inquiry into the underlying causes of the events in their world. In this context research becomes a means of moving them beyond silence into a quest to proclaim the world.”
–  Paulo Freire 

No Longer Strangers: A Conversation on the Church and Immigration

In Refugees & Immigration, Uncategorized on April 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Dr. Steve Pavey leads workshop at Englewood Christian Church, Indianapolis, IN

Immigration is one of today’s most pressing issues, one on which there is much fear, misunderstanding and tension. We believe that in the church community – where, despite our ethnic heritages, we are brothers and sisters – we can begin to untangle the misunderstandings and seek justice and reconciliation together.  We hope that you will be able to join us for this important conversation – in English and Spanish – on the church and immigration.

Out of the Shadows and Into the Light:  A Conversation with Dreamers on the Dream Act

This workshop moves the weekend conversation on church and immigration into a conversation with immigrant youth and their allies around our activism fighting for the Dream Act.  You will learn about the Dream Act that would provide a path toward citizenship for the nearly 2.1 undocumented children and youth living in the US today.  More important, you will be challenged to enter into relationship with and learn from immigrant youth themselves to break down barriers that keep us living as strangers.

April 8-9, 2011