Welcoming

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,

Thank you so much for welcoming me as your Priest-in-Charge with a BBQ last Sunday. Mary and I were truly touched by your warm hospitality. Thank you to all who worked tirelessly to prepare and cook food, provide the plates, cups, and flatware, and for talking with newcomers and our friends from the Wakefield Congregational Church. Finally, to those who stayed to clean up after the festivities, thank you for your time and effort.

As I thought about the warm welcome that you gave to Mary, myself, and the many visitors who dropped by, I was reminded of the mission of St. John the Baptist Church: The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ in worship, fellowship, and outreach. We nurture our church family in body, mind and spirit, we bring children to know the ways of the Lord and we reach out in love to the community and the world. The church doors are open and we welcome ALL people. Come and break bread with us. Come pray with us. Come stay with us.

Then I watched last night’s news and also read the morning paper, only to see the heartbreaking photograph of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria found Monday. They had drowned in the Rio Grande while seeking refuge in the United States.

The perilous fate of young families, sometimes ending in cruel and unnecessary death, is something we as Christians do not have to accept. We can do something to help can end this miserable situation.

Like me, you are wondering what you can do. Some ideas that have been offered by The Church, by relief agencies and the press are:

Contact your members of Congress and tell them that you want unfair immigration policies fixed, and disgusting detention conditions (especially for children) improved. The legal defense nonprofit Raices has provided a template and an online form that you can use to email your congressional representatives. You can also reach out to local officials to ask if any folks in our area have been affected by unfair immigration practices. Accurate knowledge is important! 

Donate to humanitarian efforts. Many immigrants are not informed of their legal and civil rights as they pursue asylum or face deportation. Several nonprofits are providing free legal representation and other services for immigrants and the families of those detained. United We Dream, the American Civil Liberties Union, Mijente, Immigrant Families Together and the Immigrant Justice Corps are coordinating advocacy and services at a national level. Local organizations providing legal aid include the New Sanctuary Coalition in New York, Las Americas in El Paso and Raices in Texas, Americans for Immigrant Justice in Florida, and the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund in Colorado.

Go online to the Episcopal Relief and Development website and read the Ten Actions You Can Take to Accompany Undocumented Immigrants. Visit: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/posts/ogr/ten-actions-you-can-take-accompany-undocumented-immigrants

Watch a short but inspiring video by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry about Partners in Welcome, a network of individuals, groups, and organizations coming together to build a community of support and solidarity for welcoming newcomers to our country. Learn more by clicking  episcopalmigrationministries.org/partnersinwelcomeor by visiting:

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/episcopal-migration-ministries

Our Church of St. John the Baptist in Sanbornville, NH may be far away from the Mexico/US border, but we are only a phone call, email, letter, or prayer away from powers that can address and fix the complex problems of immigration that are facing this country. Our little church on the hill and the Episcopal Church share a ministry of welcome. Let us not forget those words from Hebrews 13:2: Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Thank you, again, for the privilege and joy of working with you to serve God at St. John’s. May God bless you today and always,

 

Father Dave

Photo Credit: Julia Le Duc/Associated Press