Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
In the last weeks, I have found myself alternately in outrage, tears, a sense of overwhelm and a burning desire to act as news of children suffering and separated from parents at the border has reached us. Last summer at this time, we heard similar reports and our congregation responded, stepping up our witness at the West County Detention Center, leaning in to accompaniment of immigrants, sending groups to the Texas and California borders and declaring ourselves a Sanctuary congregation.
But the crisis at the border is becoming worse. As we move into a new relationship with Trinity UMC this month, we have even more capacity to act in response to this crisis. Trinity, under the leadership of Rev. Ron Parker who now is a part of Epworth, was one of the congregations that started the original Sanctuary movement in the 1980s. The offices of the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant (EBSC) are housed in the Trinity building. Epworth has been a part of the East Bay Sanctuary group of churches, but this new relationship with Trinity provides an opportunity to become more invested in the work of EBSC. Dorothy Wonder currently serves on the EBSC Board of Directors.
I have asked our Sanctuary Action Team to investigate if it is possible to send another group from our church or churches to the border this summer. While there is much we can do from Berkeley, our first-hand, eye witness accounts are powerful in sharing the reality and magnitude of the suffering being inflicted by the hands of our own government. And of course, our presence can do some good while we are there. Please stay tuned for more information on that, plan to come to a congregational meeting on July 28th after worship, and let Sanctuary Action Team leaders Christina Kellogg and Pat Bruce Lerrigo of your desire to help with any manner of response.
Recently one of our new confirmands told me that she had begun digging into her new Bible and that her favorite story is that of the Exodus. “This is my story,” she said. Indeed, we must all remember that this is our story. We have been people who have fled oppression and danger, and have sought freedom and a new life in a new land. We have discovered that it is the times when we step into the wilderness that we are most aware of the good that God is doing for us at all times. We must never forget the words from Exodus 22, “You must not abuse or oppress a foreigner, for you, too, were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
Grace and peace to each of you,