First things first… If you haven’t attended one of the Listening Session that the Search and Nomination Committee have set up for us, please – oh please – make an effort to attend. This is our opportunity to have our voices heard. From the conversations that happen at the session, the Committee will be writing the diocesan profile which will help to encourage the right candidates to apply to be our next bishop. This individual needs to come to our diocese having realistic expectations of who we are as a diocese and that can’t happen unless we speak up now. After attending two of the sessions, I can affirm that each member of the Committee with whom I spoke is committed to hear what we have to say so that this process is as transparent and open and real as possible. There are two more opportunities: June 2, from 9:00 – 11:30 am at the Cathedral Church of St Paul, Detroit, and a “virtual session” on June 4 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm via Zoom. Zoom is an easy on-line platform to work with. All you have to do is use this link: https://zoom.us/j/534916920 When you click the link, you will be prompted to download the free Zoom application. It’s easy to use and won’t hurt your computer, tablet or cell phone at all. So, please, consider joining the conversation!!
- Now on to the message that’s on my heart this week:
I have delighted in all the wonderful press The Episcopal Church has received since Bishop Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding last weekend. I have heard such wonderful comments from some of my friends who never paid much attention to our church. I don’t watch a lot of daytime TV but I did tune in to watch Bishop Curry on The Today Show and The View. All this notoriety will help as we join the work to share the Good News.
I have noticed many more people sharing Bishop Curry’s message of Jesus on social media, too. One of my favorites came from Bishop Curry’s address on Thursday evening when he spoke at the “Reclaiming Jesus” event in Washington DC. Bishop Curry made the words of Jesus come alive:
Love your neighbor. Love the neighbor you like and the neighbor you don’t like. Love the neighbor you agree with and the neighbor you don’t agree with. Love your Democrat neighbor, your Republican neighbor, your black neighbor, your white neighbor, your Anglo neighbor, your Latino neighbor and your LGBTQ neighbor. Love your neighbor!
In the midst of all the positive press, I did hear some comments that broke my heart: “Why do we have to make the pulpit political? I wish our bishops would just stick to religion and leave politics alone.” I was stunned because I don’t see Jesus’ call to love our neighbor as a political statement. When we support care for refugees and immigrants, we are not promoting partisan politics. When we ask for tighter gun laws to safeguard our children, we are not talking partisan politics. When we call for the closing of Enbridge Line 5 to protect our Great Lakes, we are not talking partisan politics.
At the risk of sounding as though I am preaching a specific political agenda rather than a spiritual concern, I want to share a post from Facebook by one of my favorite Christian authors that addresses a new revelation from the news this week. Rachel Held Evans, author of Searching for Sunday; Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church, and Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions posted on Saturday:
“My son was crying as I put him in the seat. I did not even have a chance to try to comfort my son, because the officers slammed the door shut as soon as he was in his seat. I was crying too. I cry even now when I think about that moment when the border officers took my son away.”
This is the testimony of Miran, a young mother who fled her home country of Honduras when conflict there threatened the safety of her only son. When she finally reached the U.S. border, after a long and dangerous journey, ICE agents separated her from her son as part of a new policy enacted by the Trump administration wherein children of undocumented immigrants are taken from their parents in order to send a message that might deter other immigrants from making the journey.
According to President Trump’s chief-of-staff, the administration plans to put the children “in foster care or whatever.” However, as PBS reports, many unaccompanied minors have already been “lost” in the system or sold to human traffickers.
Sold to human traffickers.
I’ve been reading these reports from my phone (I’ll link to them below), with a newborn baby in my arms and my two-year-old son giggling on the floor, thinking about how these mothers don’t love their children any less than I do. And I’ve been thinking, too, about the hundreds of biblical passages that demand justice and mercy for “strangers” and “sojourners” – immigrants and refugees. These children are truly the most vulnerable among us. Not helping them is a sin; further traumatizing them is a sin worthy of a millstone around the neck.
“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did welcome me, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”
…I was a child and you separated me from my mother and sold me into slavery.
We must act. Some initial ideas – more to come:
- Call your representatives first thing Tuesday morning, (set a reminder on your phone if you need to), and let them know exactly what you think about this new policy. Demand that they review border policies, and the actions of ICE toward women and children, and call for an end to the human rights abuses occurring at the border. Remind them that this is an election year and you are paying attention
- Support organizations that provide legal representation to mothers like Mirian and children like her son. I’ll link to a few below.
- Talk about this. Go ahead and put a damper on that Memorial Day cookout by telling friends and family what is happening. Challenge your church to take this on as an injustice that demands rebuke. Share the news reports on social media.
- Learn more about how your community engages immigrants and refugees, and see if there is way you can help. (Follow Alida Garcia online for more ideas on this – @leedsgarcia.)
Here are the resources she mentioned:
Legal help for migrant families: Kids in Need of Defense
Legal and social service to immigrants in Arizona: The Florence Project
I had seen an article last Friday on CNBC that reported this but I felt a bit helpless other than offering my prayers. I’m grateful to Rachel Held Evans for sharing some action items for us.
How did we get to this despicable place? I’m sorry if any of you think I am taking a particular political side; I’m not. I would be equally appalled by any group that thinks it’s appropriate to treat children and families this way. And maybe you are wondering how this relates to the resolutions about which we usually write. I’m quite sure all I would have to do is go to the archives of previous conventions and I would find plenty of resolutions I could attach to make this point.
So, on Tuesday morning, I will be contacting my representatives and asking that they take a serious look at this new policy and make the appropriate changes to protect these “our neighbors.” I’ll also be watching the Episcopal Public Policy Netowrk’s (EPPN) work in support of migrants (check out this resource they’ve prepared for us to understand this situation). They already have a link for contacting our representatives affirming the universal right to seek asylum. Will you join me?
Let us pray
For everyone born, a place at the table,
for everyone born, clean water and bread,
a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,
for everyone born, a star over head.
And God will delight when we are creators
of justice and joy, compassion and peace;
yes, God will delight when we are creators
of justice, justice, and joy.
(from Shirley Erena Murray)
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council