Forty people from several congregations and faith traditions gathered at the Cathedral of Saint James last night to learn about the humanitarian crisis at the southern US border and to discuss ways that we, as Christians, might respond.
Dean Brian Grantz opened the meeting with prayer and distributed the Agenda and Resource document Responding to the Crisis at the Southern US Border.
Ms. Barb Szweda, an attorney with expertise in immigration law, presented on the most common reasons people flee their homes to seek asylum in the United States, the pervasiveness of violence and corruption in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that is driving much of the current movement, the reality of migrant "caravans," international and US law concerning refugees and asylum seekers, and changes in US policy under the current administration that exacerbate the situation at our border.
Following a video presentation of the Presiding Bishop's statement on the border crisis, Bishop Doug Sparks presented materials from the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations, The Episcopal Public Policy Network, and Episcopal Migration Ministries, including these specific suggestions from Ms. Lacy Broemel of the Office of Government Relations:
Write to your Congressional representatives. Use the Episcopal Public Policy Network’s alert, which urges support for both refugee and asylum protections.
Educate your community.
Give financial and material support those who are doing this work:
This toolkit lists many actions to take in support of refugee resettlement and protections for asylum that mirror several of the suggestions above:
Dean Grantz then reviewed the resource document, calling special attention to the Close the Camps call to action at Temple Beth-El in South Bend on Sunday, August 11. Dean Grantz and Ms. Szweda will also continue to explore possibilities for direct support and involvement of our diocese and the Cathedral in a ministry at the border. The meeting closed with prayer.
This afternoon, Dean Grantz received a call from Canon Jim Warnock, rector of Gethsemane Church in Marion, Indiana, about a Border Crisis event they wish to host on Saturday, October 26. Please watch for more information coming soon.