Thursday, September 24, 2015

100 Women, 100 Miles: Dignity for Immigrants

The vigil outside of the York County Detention Center
Last Tuesday, September 15, I had the great honor of participating in the opening vigil and first leg of the “100 Women, 100 Miles” pilgrimage from a detention center in York, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. and the visit of Pope Francis. I was there with the organizations We Belong Together, PICO, Juntos, National Domestic Workers Alliance and others aiming to share the stories of migrant women. The vigil and pilgrimage are meant to echo the Pope’s message for migrant dignity and to lift up the hardships immigrant women and their families face in this country. The pilgrimage, which ended yesterday September 23 in Washington, D.C., included clergy and people of faith (including UUs and Standing on the Side of Love folks) who believe that compassion for immigrants is a core aspect of their respective religious traditions.
Lara Hoke, Guillermina Castellanos, & Wendy Von Courter from UU Marblehead at the lunch break.

We have many immigrants in the Merrimack Valley, and of course Lawrence is known as ‘Immigrant City’. I’m thrilled that the City of Lawrence recently passed ordinances that are compassionate toward immigrants (“Safe Driving” and “Lawrence Trust” ordinances). I hope Andover and the rest of the Merrimack Valley will follow suit. And I hope that this ‘100 Women, 100 Miles’ pilgrimage has drawn more people’s attention to the plight of immigrants, and to their humanity.

Walking in York, PA (photo from We Belong Together FB page).
It was a privilege to be a small part of of the 100 Women, 100 Miles pilgrimage – to participate in the opening vigil and to walk with these brave women on the first day of the pilgrimage. I grew up not far from York, Pennsylvania, and being at the first part of the vigil, starting at the detention center in York, had special personal meaning for me. It was incredible to hear parts of the amazing stories of the immigrant women who were walking. I am in awe of their courage and determination.

Pope Francis is giving a strong message of dignity for the migrant peoples of the world. It makes sense that Pope Francis would preach this message of love, compassion, and welcoming for migrants.  Some have noted that the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament are in many ways the story of wandering, migrant people. And hospitality and kindness to strangers is one of the primary virtues held up in these scriptures as well. 

This past Sunday, September 20, I preached on this topic ("'We Belong Together': Immigration and Love without Borders"). You can listen to that (live) recording at this link

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