Yes, It Takes a Village

One cannot miss hearing about the U.S. immigration problems—especially in Arizona—as information is on every news medium daily. Who are these immigrants? Why are they here? What is our responsibility for them?

Members of our Social Justice Team (SJT) have been involved in working with asylum seekers (asylees) at the Revolution Church in Tolleson. The Reverend Raul Salgado and his parishioners have been providing food; at least one or two nights’ shelter; showers; clothing and travel arrangements for these men, women and children who have been given approval to seek asylum. They are here upon acknowledgment of a legitimate fear of persecution and have been forced to flee their country because of that persecution, war, or violence. They are brought to this church, and many others in the Phoenix area, in preparation for their continued journey to a relative or friend while waiting for approval of asylum through the courts—which may take from 6 months to several years.

But who are they? Those that we have worked with are from mountain areas of Central America’s Golden Triangle—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. 90% of those who seek shelter at Revolution Church are from Guatemala and 10% from Honduras. Most speak no English (or very little). They are single mothers and single fathers traveling with one or more children, including infants. They arrive in groups of 50 to 100 disheveled, in need of a shower, and hungry. It’s primarily members of that church who can communicate with them, but unfortunately, they are so very busy preparing food, finding clothing that fits, and arranging transportation to their next location, there is little time for just conversation. Our SJT has provided clothing and incidentals; sorted bags and boxes of clothing by size, gender and purpose; after the shower, searched for clothing that fits the recipient; served food; provided and packaged small packets of food to be taken with them on their next journey; and provided transportation to the airport or bus station.

But, we and about 50 of Rev. Selgado’s church members, are not the only ones who provide help. Volunteers from several churches and volunteer health workers check for fevers and provide meds as necessary while looking for any serious health problems. In addition, several retired doctors bring donuts for them.

Though we do not speak their language and they do not speak ours, it is evident that they proud, thankful for our help, and respond with smiles, hugs, and “gracias” (thank you) for all that is being done on their behalf. Those we have seen are loving towards their children The children are typical of those we all know—fun-loving, can’t resist a ball, and often cling close to their parent. Yes, it takes a village and more, it takes a nation to resolve this problem in a humanitarian way.

…inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. –Matthew 25:40

God willing, may we continue to be a part of the necessary village.

Underground Railroad Quilt

From The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team:

Working together despite differences of opinion and world views has been a hallmark of American history and is certainly true within the United Church of Christ and even right here at Church of the Palms.

It is fitting, then, that the beautiful quilt displayed on the west wall of King Hall represents people, our people, working together, despite very different opinions on the final product, calling attention to a time in US history marked by conflicting views and very different perspectives on what and who should make up the fabric of our country.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team dedicated to: “Seeking justice through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry, Support” (PALMS) thanks all of those involved in this project and hopes that all will admire its beauty and see it as a symbol of pulling together and a labor of love.

The quilt, a brainchild of Barbara Arnold, beautifully assembled by the dedicated ladies from our Service Project Craft Group and framed by Ron Schultz, tells a story of the Underground Railroad – the Negro slaves fleeing the south during abolition. The quilt represents a people’s quest for freedom, dignity and respect and the risks and rewards of pursuing those noble goals. Each of the squares in the quilt represents a code symbol for those seeking safety known by them and those desiring to help their fellow human beings.

Social Justice Team update

Seeking justice through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support!

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team is a vital ministry in and of our church. The very nature of seeking justice infers advocating on behalf of those individuals and classes of individuals that have been marginalized and oppressed. We keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to the needs in our church, our community, and our world.

We have several action items that we are participating in to become more informed about how we can prayerfully support others and how we can help in other ministries across our community, the state, and beyond. Keep your antenna up for information on issues of interest to members of our church and community such as the genocide in South Sudan, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the topic of “White Privilege”.

If you are interested in justice issues and feel a call to contribute, please come – you are always welcome.

Social Justice team members with full tummies after good food and fellowship at First Watch on field trip to Lutheran Social Services in Phoenix.
Social Justice team members with full tummies after good food and fellowship at First Watch on field trip to Lutheran Social Services in Phoenix.