This last Wednesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions invoked Romans 13 to validate the amoral separation of immigrant children from their families, and now (as noted by our Christian Elders at reclaimingjesus.org) people are watching and waiting to see what our churches will say and do.
Today you might be tempted to exhale given President Trump’s Executive Order, but we know that our broken immigration system has been separating families long before this moment, and that it will continue to do so if our laws remained unchanged. Likewise, we know that this administration in particular must be held accountable for its public rhetoric, and here in Oregon that means gaining direct access (so far denied) to immigrant detainees being held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, OR.
So, as announced at the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ) press conference earlier today, we will be holding a public worship service this Sunday morning (6/24) at 11:00 a.m., just outside the Sheridan Prison. Main Parking will be at Sheridan High School, 433 S Bridge St., Sheridan, OR 97378, then a 1/4 mile walk to the site of the service.
For our communities of faith, this can no longer be a time for “business as usual.” We realize that this is short notice, and that it is very difficult and disruptive to change our usual Sunday routines with so little lead time. But given the nature of this national crisis of faith, we believe that difficult disruptions are now called for, and we are asking all faith leaders and faith communities throughout Oregon to join us in Sheridan for this special moment of prayer-in-action.
As of the sending of this letter, ten churches have committed to participating in some way with a Sunday worship service in Sheridan. In some cases the service at their usual house of worship has been canceled entirely, in others a loose “bare bones” service will remain. But all have committed to handing out this letter to help interpret this dramatic break from business as usual, and it’s our hope and prayer that others will join us in this important gesture.
Our Sunday Service in Sheridan (called “The Road to Sheridan: Love Leads Us”) will include all the traditional worship elements (communion, prayer, music, sermon, etc.), but it will also include a direct ask of the Prison to allow ongoing clergy access to detainees so they can receive the pastoral care they need and have requested – and so that we can learn more about how they are being treated and whether or not they are being reunited with their children, spouses and other family.
For faith communities who aren’t able to join us, but who would like to lift up a common prayer or piece of liturgy in solidarity with us, you can consider using the same Call to Worship that we’ll be using in Sheridan. Download it here.
In faith and prayer for immigrant families and for our country,
The Rev. Chris Craun, St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church
The Rev. Michael Ellick, First Congregational United Church of Christ
The Rev. Melissa Reed, Salt & Light Lutheran Church
The Rev. Josh Kingsley, First Methodist Church
The Very Rev. Nathan LeRud, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
The Rev. Maria McDowell, St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church
The Rev. Kerlin Richter, St. David of Wales Episcopal Church
The Rev. Dr. Sara Rosneau, Waverly Heights United Church of Christ
The Rev. Audrey Schindler, First Presbyterian Church
The Rev. Tara Wilkins, Bridgeport United Church of Christ
Click here to read Bishop Michael’s statement “Families Belong Together.”
Click here to download a half-sheet bulletin insert of Bishop Michael’s statement and immigration action points.