LOVING OUR NEIGHBORS
Offered by Rev. Michael Wallens
Co-Chair of Rio Grande Borderland Ministries
For our migrant friends along the border, the pandemic is one more layer of complexity to their already tragic and unjust circumstances in cities, shelters and tent cities. For the church along the border, it is not only seeing, immersing and advocating for migrants; it is about being in relationship with them. On the border, as people who work with our sisters and brothers, we answer the invitation to participate. What we have found is a transformation that does start within oneself and has ripple effects on those we are close to. Our friends have taught us that it is not enough to support a shelter and provide food; they need friends who become their network and support.
As heavy and as difficult as the pandemic is for so many, it is also an opportunity for all of us to create a better world, one where every person can live in peace and dignity. It has never been clearer that access to healthcare, food, clean water, shelter and economic security are human rights. With the clarity that often emerges from crisis, we can work together to create transformative change and come out of this a stronger and more just society. Let us begin with prayer as requested along the border:
• Some of the migrant camps inside the Mexican border have experienced heavy rains and flooding. Please pray for those experiencing these additional hardships and the organizations making sure they have proper water drainage channels, tents, and other basic needs.
• Pray for the immigrants with legal status who have been working and paying taxes and have lost jobs like so many other Americans during this crisis. With the complexities and recent changes of immigration law, many are confused and fearful about the renewal of their green cards and so are not applying for much-needed unemployment insurance benefits.
• Please pray for all those living in limbo as they await immigration hearings. Immigration courts already have a backlog of more than 1 million cases and can take years for an asylum applicant to get a final hearing. With the pandemic shutdown, the courts will be facing effects that last for years to come.
O God, Creator of all people,
help us to travel through the barren borderlands
that separate us from others.
Teach us to willingly explore relationships with people
as we offer a compassionate response to those who cross our paths around our borders.
Open our hearts to new companion’s needs so that
everyone is clothed,
everyone has a safe and healthy habitat and
everyone knows they are loved by You, O Lord,
through our actions and struggles for justice and peace.
Grant us the vision to notice how each step we take together
moves us closer to the promised land
where all souls grow in hope and love.
Let us go forth this day
In harmony with You,
Compassion in our hearts
Gratitude in our thoughts
Generosity in our deeds
Justice as our passion
Let us go forth
carrying God’s image
Into our hurting world along our border.
Border Crossing, 1989
Luis A. Jimenez, Jr.
Sante Fe Museum of Art
Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action
In the month of June, 2020, EPF will join The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and Episcopal Migration Ministries for Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action, a series of webinars to learn and advocate with and on behalf of immigrants, DACA recipients, refugees, and asylum seekers.
Newcomers contribute greatly to U.S. communities, enriching our common life, strengthening the U.S. economy, and bringing joy as they join and reunite with families and friends. And yet, immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees face a wide array of challenges, including federal policies and legislation that are outdated and do not address the realities of immigrants in America today. As the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement, we are called to advocate with and for our siblings seeking safety and a better life in the United States.
June 7-13: Episcopal Action on DACA Week
WEBINAR: June 9, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time
June 14-20: Episcopal Action on Resettlement Week
WEBINAR: June 16, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time
June 21-27: Episcopal Action on Asylum Week
WEBINAR: June 23, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time
Participants may choose to attend one or more of the webinars offered. Registration is required here.
About the Office of Government Relations:
The Office of Government Relations represents the policy priorities of The Episcopal Church to the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. We aim to shape and influence policy and legislation on critical issues, highlighting the voices and experiences of Episcopalians and Anglicans globally. All policy positions are based on General Convention and Executive Council resolutions, the legislative and governing bodies of the Church.
About Episcopal Migration Ministries:
Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) lives the call of welcome by supporting refugees, immigrants, and the communities that embrace them as they walk together in The Episcopal Church’s movement to create loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships rooted in compassion. EMM’s desire to honor the inherent value of human connection brings communities together to love their neighbors as themselves.
Something more you can do to support our neighbors in detention: help get these women out to avoid becoming sick with COVID 19! Call the Irwin Detention Center and demand their release. (404) 893-1210
Do you want to learn how to write an effective Op-Ed? Join me and other social justice advocates for a primer in persuasive written advocacy here on Saturday, June 6, 2020: "Write to Change the World" virtual workshop.
Learn more at: www.TheOpEdProject.org
David Paulsen of Episcopal News Service did an in-depth report on the case of Abu Ali, one of the many condemned on whose behalf EPF advocates against their death sentence.
Save the date! Wear orange for gun violence prevention is June 5-7, 2020. We will be filling up the social media airwaves to create awareness around the prevention of gun violence. Send us your photos and videos so we can share the energy you have for this vital social justice effort. Please use #WearOrange for all your social media posts!
COVID-19 has forced the nation into an unprecedented emergency. The current emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that has long ignored the needs of 140 million people who are poor or one emergency away from being poor.
In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
They are coming together to demand that the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in our nation — from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place — are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.
Steven and I have just left Sisters, Oregon where we have been sheltering in place with friends and EPF supporters Rev. Jack and Rev. Christy Close Erskine. What a happy and holy experience to live with such lovely, generous people. I can’t imagine a more fruitful and fulfilling experience — we made protective masks for the local hospital, planted a garden, worshipped God, broke bread together, enjoyed the lovely Cascade mountains, and learned how to oust a demagogue (see David Domke’s Common Purpose: www.commonpurposenow.org) among much else. With the weather moderating, we hope to see some more of beautiful Oregon and maybe to make some safe physical distancing visits as we travel. No news yet on when our EPF parish visits will resume. We are playing it safe and watching closely for our next opportunity! See you on the road!
Until next time,
power to the peaceful!
View behind the altar, Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Sisters, Oregon
Photo credit, Steven Atha