Good morning, Friends!
Well, it’s March – but it sure doesn’t feel or look like spring is 3 weeks away! Hopefully we can all hang on for a little while longer; I’m sure those spring flowers are hiding somewhere under all that snow!
Speaking of March, did your church commemorate the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of HIV/AIDS on Sunday? You might recall the blog post 2 weeks ago reminding us that the week of March 2 – 9 has been designated a week of prayer for The Episcopal Church to coincide with the national remembrance of this week. My church, St Michael and All Angels, Cambridge Junction, gave out a bulletin insert with a different prayer for every day this week. You can pray along with us by checking out the Nuts and Bolts Blog Facebook page where I will be posting the prayer for the day each morning.
Now, on to “new” issues. The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church met back in February and passed three resolutions that affect all of us. This week we’ll look at A&N 019 Dominicans of Haitian Descent
Resolved, That the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Linthicum Heights, Md., from February 5-7, 2014, declares its solidarity with Dominicans of Haitian descent, who have been made essentially stateless when the Dominican Republic’s constitutional court on September 23, 2013, ruled ineligible for citizenship any children born of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic and ordered authorities to “audit all of the nation’s birth records back to June 1929 to determine who no longer qualifies for citizenship,” (according to an article in The New York Times); and be it further
Resolved, That all Episcopalians are encouraged to pray for Dominicans of Haitian descent and all other stateless persons in the world that they may find homes where they are welcomed and afforded legitimate residential, educational, and work status for themselves and their children; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council affirms its support of the Episcopal Church in the Dominican Republic and its Bishop Julio Holguín and the Diocese of Haiti and its Bishop Jean Zache Duracin in their efforts to provide advocacy and other succor to those affected by their country’s constitutional court ruling; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council directs the Office of Government Relations to encourage the United States and our ecumenical and interreligious partners to engage this human rights issue with the Dominican Republic on behalf of Dominicans of Haitian descent and others similarly affected by this issue; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council encourages the Presiding Bishop to lead a fact-finding delegation to the Dominican Republic together with ecumenical and interreligious partners, and to make a report to the Executive Council; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council encourage the Episcopal Public Policy Network to engage in a concerted effort to educate and alert the members of the Episcopal Church of this significant human rights issue and potential large-scale tragedy and to encourage their advocacy within their churches and communities.
The Episcopal News Service reported on the court ruling of September 23, 2014, stating that the citizenship of more than 200,00 persons of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic is in jeopardy. The Rt. Rev. Julio Holguín, Bishop of the Dominican Republic, wrote in an email to the ENS: “I believe that the constitutional court has made a big mistake with that ruling, which violates the rights of at least four generations of descendants of immigrants, most of whom came to the Dominican Republic, by agreement between the two governments, Dominican and Haitian, to work primarily cutting sugarcane.” According to an article in the New York Times, the courts directed local authorities to go as far back as June 1929 to determine who is eligible for citizenship. Not only will these people lose their citizenship but this ruling also calls into question any other forms of identification including passports and may it difficult for them to enroll in school, open a bank account or purchase a home.
Here is the link to the New York Times article:
And a link to the article from Episcopal News Service:
You may recall that our diocese, along with the Dioceses of Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, has established a companion relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic. A few years ago the three bishops traveled to the Dominican Republic on an exploratory trip inaugurating the D.R.E.A.M. Project (Dominican Republic & Episcopal churches in All of lower Michigan). In addition, several of the churches in our Household have established relationships with congregations in Haiti. This provides us a unique connection with the people of both nations which certainly helps to make this issue much more personal for us.
The link for the D.R.E.A.M website is http://michigan-dominican.org/
What can we do? First we can educate ourselves. Read the news coming off the Episcopal News Service to learn of any changes in this situation. We can speak out to others. Share this information in your churches and with family. Then write to your representatives asking for their action on behalf of these people. You also might want to check out the mission trip possibilities at http://michigan-dominican.org/ Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we can pray:
O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, we humbly seek your wisdom for the leaders of the Dominican Republic that you might make your ways known to them and guide them as they make decisions about the citizen status of those of Haitian descent. We especially pray for your people: that we may be guided and governed by Your Holy Spirit; that we who profess to be your followers may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. May we have the strength and courage to speak for those who have no voice and to stand up against the injustice and oppression of discrimination. Finally, we commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed especially the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We ask that you comfort them as they face the uncertainty of these political decisions. All this we ask for the sake of our Lord, Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Dioceesan Council