Offering Hospitality to Asylum Seekers, or Love Thy Neighbor – No Exceptions

Members of your social justice team have been exploring ways of offering support to immigrants who are seeking asylum and have been admitted to the country legally. These families have applied for asylum on entry (completing all necessary paperwork to do so) and are being allowed to travel to family members in the US who are here legally, and who will sponsor them.

They come with little or nothing, and are bussed by ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement)  to the Phoenix area and dropped at local churches who have the ability to provide a shower, clean clothes, food and a place to sleep, for usually 1 to 3 days at most. They will have tickets for the onward journey provided by their family/sponsor. The church also provides transportation to the bus depot.

There are a number of churches and nonprofits in the Valley actively welcoming and providing support. We recently visited a church in the West Valley that has been welcoming groups brought to them by ICE  since Thanksgiving.They take as many as 200 people over the course of three days.  They have very limited space which is used for sleeping at night, and gathering during the day. Meals are prepared and eaten outside.

We were inspired and humbled by the witness of this congregation and are committed to finding ways that Church of the Palms will support the work they are doing. We hope many of you will join us.

As of this writing, a group of us will be go to the host church on Monday mornings for about three hours (carpooling at 9:00 am from Church of the Palms).  Please email Beth Moore ebmoore1@live.com if you wish to join us on any Monday.  We encourage anyone to go with us just to meet the people, and witness the work being done. Please feel free to speak with John Durbin or Beth Moore to learn more of the details of this effort.

As we learn more and organize our efforts, we will begin asking you for specific things that are needed. The following are needs that have been expressed at this point. If you wish, you may bring donations and place them in the designated box in the narthex labeled “Asylum Seekers.”

    • Clothing in sizes small and medium for men and women
    •     Shoes, sweaters, jackets
    •     New underwear and socks for men, women and children
    • Staples:  toilet paper, paper plates, utensils, Styrofoam cups
    • Hygiene items:  toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo
    • Food items:  Coffee; creamer, sugar; bottled water

People are also needed:

    • Drivers to take groups to the bus depot.
    • Volunteers on Monday or Tuesday to help with things such as meal preparation; sorting clothes;  doing laundry; sitting and visiting with children/parents.

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team Report

Our Social Justice Team has been very active this summer with a number of activities. Following is a statement and prayer written by Michael Curry, our service leader July 16th, and read by members of Shadow Rock and Church of the Palms , pictured below, at the ICE Office, Phoenix on July 17th, 2017.

“Here we are in the sweltering heat of the Arizona summer standing together on the threshold of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to offer a statement and prayer with the ongoing hope that we will one-day experience immigration reform for all of God’s beloved children.

Our heart is heavy this morning as there is no new information in the cases of Ismael Delgado and Sixto Paz who are still in sanctuary at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix as they can only wait as with pray for them and their families that they may no longer be separated by the confines of the walls of Shadow Rock. We continue to pray for Marco Tulio and his family as we journey and join with them in the fight to bring him home to his wife and children.

We want to end by sharing a quote from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In sharing this quote, we hope it inspires all of us as we continue to move forward in our efforts to ensure Immigration reform for all people. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shares, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort convenience, but where he stands in times of challenges and controversy.” As a people of faith and good conscious, we challenge to everyone to think about how we will stand with our neighbors as they face times of challenge and controversy as walls are built which separate them from a life of comfort and familiarity. When will the officials in the confines of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office raise their voice and speak up on behalf of those who have been treated unjustly as they await their fate in a broken immigration system?

Friends, I ask that you take a deep breath and join me in a time of prayer…

Loving God we come to you seeking your presence as we offer our heartfelt hope and prayers for those who are trapped in an unjust world. We continue to prayer for Misael, Marco, Ismael, Sixto, and Alfred as we journey with them so that they may no longer be bound by the confines of a broken immigration system. God, we ask that you show us as a people of faith and conscious how to be the light in the darkness of challenge and controversy in our world today. Go forth knowing that we are a people of hope fighting for justice in an unjust world. And All of God’s People say Amen!!”

Look for reports on other activities of our Social Justice Team in Sunday Bulletins and the Palm Leaf.