This month, more than 50 UU congregations are participating in Dream Sabbath, organized by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (of which the UUA is a member) and Sen. Dick Durbin, lead sponsor of the DREAM Act. Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in an Interfaith Dream Sabbath on Capitol Hill. We sang, prayed, and listened to Father Joe Nangle, a Franciscan Friar, reflect on how his faith informs his response to the issues facing the migrant families in our communities.
“Dreamers,” are the young men and women who, despite having grown up here, are at risk of being deported. If the DREAM Act were to pass, it would provide them with a path to follow that could eventually result in citizenship.
The emotional highlight of the service at the Methodist Chapel in Washington, D.C. was hearing from one of these Dreamers.
Gaby Pacheco had driven up with two friends from Florida just to participate in this service. She told us, tearfully at times, of how her parents had struggled to provide a good education to her and her brother and sister. She told us of her dream of becoming a special education teacher and her sadness at knowing she will never be able to do this, unless The Dream Act passes.
You can hear Gaby’s story yourself:
Please join the renewed push to pass the DREAM Act by asking your members of Congress to support the legislation. Click here to send a message.
On the UUA website we have compiled a list of immigration resources that can help you learn more about young men and women like Gaby and how we can stand with them on the side of love by helping them achieve their dreams.
Thank you to all the UU congregations who are committed to making DREAM a reality!
Eureka UU Church, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Valley UU Congregation, Chandler, Arizona
UU Fellowship of Flagstaff, Arizona
Granite Peak UU Congregation, Prescott, Arizona
UU Fellowship of Kern County, Bakersfield, California
UU Church of Anaheim, California
Conejo Valley UU Fellowship, Newbury Park, California
Throop UU Church, Pasadena, California
First Unitarian Church of San Jose, California
UU San Mateo, California
Summit UU Fellowship, Santee, California
Columbine Unitarian Universalist, Littleton, Colorado
American University UU Campus Ministry, Washington, DC
All Souls Church-Unitarian, Washington, DC
UU of Clearwater, Flordia
UU Church of Fort Myers, Florida
First UU Congregation of the Palm Beaches, North Palm Beach, Florida
UU Fellowship of Ames, Iowa
UU Congregation of the Quad Cities, Davenport, Iowa
UU Society of Iowa City, Iowa
Pocatello UU Fellowship, Pocatello, Idaho
Magic Valley UU Fellowship, Twin Falls, Idaho
UU Church of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois
North Shore Unitarian Church, Deerfield, Illinois
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois
UU Church of Lafayette, Indiana
UU Fellowship of Topeka, Kansas
UU Church of Bowling Green, Kentucky
First Unitarian Church of Louisville, Kentucky
Community Church Unitarian Universalist, New Orleans, Louisiana
First Parish Cambridge, Massachusetts
UU Church of East Liberty, Clarklake, Michigan
Lake Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, Shorewood, Minnesota
First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis, Minnesota
UU Church of Minnetonka, Wayzata, Minnesota
UU Fellowship of Lake Norman, Davidson, North Carolina
Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska
UU Church of Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, New Jersey
Las Vegas UU Fellowship, Las Vegas, New Mexico
UU Congregation of Queens, Flushing, New York
Brockport UU Fellowship, Brockport, New York
UU Congregation at Shelter Rock, Manhasset, New York
St. John’s UU Church, Cincinnati, Ohio
UU Church of Kent, Ohio
Olmsted UU Congregation, North Olmsted, Ohio
Oberlin UU Fellowship, Oberlin, Ohio
UU Church of Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas
Community UU Church of Plano, Texas
Cache Valley Unitarian Universalists, Logan, Utah
UU Church of Arlington, Virginia
UU Church of Roanoke, Virginia
Champlain Valley UU Society, Middlebury, Vermont
According to Unitarian Universalist Church of Concord member Lyn Betz, “When residents of Concord, NH learned that the homes of three African refugee families had been vandalized with hateful graffiti telling them they were ‘not welcome,’ ‘subhuman,’ and should go back to the hell they came from, members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Concord knew immediately that it was time to open the new box of Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts. The whole city has responded by wearing yellow in support of the refugee community and hundreds turned out for two ‘Love Your Neighbor’ rallies featuring speeches, music, and prayer, sponsored by the Greater Concord Interfaith Alliance and other social justice agencies.”
Check out this slideshow from the “Love Your Neighbor” rallies for some more inspiring images of people from all ages and backgrounds gathering to embrace and support their refugee neighbors.
Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Concord also attended an interfaith Love Your Neighbor rally at the New Hampshire State House with their Standing on the Side of Love banner. According to the Concord Monitor‘s coverage of the event, “The long list of speakers who took the stage pointed to the recent racist graffiti attack on three African refugee families as a symptom of yet another in a long line of injustices society must band together to overcome…Many of the speakers told the crowd of about 250 that they need to reach beyond attending rallies, holding signs and paying lip service to welcoming refugees to the community.”
Concord’s interfaith response to the recent hate crimes is truly an example of a town coming together to stand on the side of love.More >
Andrew L. Coate is a member of First Parish Cambridge. The congregation’s rainbow flag was stolen last month.
We all know that there is a lot of very real hatred, inequity, and pain in this world. There are people dying from unjust laws, hatred brought on by lack of knowledge, and unfair actions based on anger or stereotypes. So when our pride flag was stolen it was easy to put it off as something that didn’t really matter.
Our church, like many UU churches, is a Welcoming Congregation and one of the ways that we publicly announce that is by hanging a Rainbow Flag outside our congregation. We are also far from the first church, even in Massachusetts, to have our flag stolen, vandalized, or destroyed. At least seven UU congregations have reported eleven separate instances of vandalism to their rainbow flags. We suspect the flag was torn down once in late August, and then it was stolen entirely in mid-September; today we rededicated and re-raised a new flag. After our main service we gathered back in the sanctuary to sing, to pray, to listen to members of the LGBTQ community and then to walk out to the front of our church and watch our flag be raised. We were joined by clergy from neighboring congregations and organizers from Massachusetts Equality.
Despite the fact that, yes, it is “just a flag” it’s still important to make those public declarations. Every destruction requires a sacred ending to have closure, to have forgiveness, and to move on. Silently putting the flag up over and over without a public witness to recognize, celebrate, and reaffirm our commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of all people, including those in the LGBTQ community, would be going half way at best.
We sent out a press release directly following our flag being stolen and then a media advisory preceding the event. Reporters from the Boston Globe and local radio and TV stations covered the event. A news story was on the front page of the Metro Section of the following day’s Boston Globe.
The service was affirming and well thought out. There was a litany of rededication from our senior minister, Rev. Fred Small, and a beautiful reflection from our ministerial intern Elizabeth Nguyen. Our Associate minister, Lilia Cuervo, offered a prayer and Robert Coats, member of the GLBT Commission of the City of Cambridge, offered community thanks and support. Social Justice Council Chair Marcia Hams spoke about the congregation’s commitment and what it meant for her and her wife Susan to be married there. Everyone was so involved and intent on affirming all who were present.
The real magic happened when we walked out of the sanctuary still singing Amy Carol Webb’s anthem “Stand!” as we watched our flag be remounted, higher than ever. One young girl in our congregation jumped up and down and shouted , “We did it! We did it!”
We did it. Or, at least, we are doing it. We are striving to create the beloved community of Dr. King’s Dream. With each act of intolerance that we fight and each bit of hatred that we speak out against with love and prayer and song we are getting closer to that which we aspire to be.More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Thursday, September 29, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Physical abuse. Sexual assault. Ethnic and racial slurs. Family separation.
Forced to walk barefoot through the desert. Shoved into cactuses. Driven repeatedly in circles until nauseated.
As we shared with you last week, these are just some of the more than 30,000 instances of abuse that the humanitarian group No More Deaths documented in their report on the treatment of migrants in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.
In response to the documented abuses in the report, the Border Patrol released a non-answer, stating that agents “were required to treat all those they encounter with respect and dignity.” However, as was reported by the San Antonio Times, “it was unclear whether CBP planned to investigate the report’s allegations.”
One thing that is clear however, is that these abuses must stop. We need your help to make sure people around the country, and especially in your local area, know what is being done in our names. Can you write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper? Using our easy tool it won’t take more than a minute or two.
In the last week, articles about these abuses have appeared in USA Today, Reuters, the Associated Press, the International Business Times, and the Houston Chronicle, to name just a few. Leaders in the faith community are speaking up. And more than 2,000 of you have taken action, signing the petition to President Obama and Secretary Napolitano to end the culture of cruelty and unaccountability at the U.S. Border Patrol.
While it is positive that the report has garnered attention, we need to step up the pressure on President Obama and Secretary Napolitano to put a stop to these atrocities, enact binding standards of treatment for those in Border Patrol custody, and establish independent oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.
One way you can help is to speak out locally against the abuse of migrants in the care of U.S. Border Patrol and to urge the Obama Administration to investigate and address these crimes.
Please help us keep the pressure on the Obama Administration so that this report does not become old news. These human rights abuses are happening by our government, with our tax-dollars, in our names. Something must be done!
If you have not already signed the petition, please do so today, and email it to friends and family, and share it on your Facebook wall.
Standing on the Side of Love
Last week, Unitarian Universalist Mass Action, Standing on the Side of Love, and Unitarian Universalists from over ten congregations stood in solidarity with Centro Presente and the immigrant community at Boston City Hall to urge Mayor Menino to stop cooperating with the Secure Communities program.
At the vigil, Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager Dan Furmansky announced the results of a study released last week by No More Deaths which details conditions within Border Patrol detention centers and made a compelling case for why the Secure Communities program is an important issue for Unitarian Universalists to engage in.
Rev. Sue Phillips, Massachusetts Bay/Clara Barton District Executive, spoke about how the Secure Communities program is “bad theology” and thwarts our efforts to create a Beloved Community, saying “The only secure communities are the ones that justice-seeking people create. Our communities can never be whole when some of us are subject to sudden detention and deportation. Our communities can’t be free and fair when some of our brothers and sisters are terrified every day that family members might disappear. When our communities are weakened by this kind of fear and injustice, we all lose a little bit of the light of god that is in us. And we can’t afford to. We need every drop.”
Rev. Fred Small also inspired the vigil participants with music, singing in both English and Spanish.
For more photos and coverage of the vigil, check out Spanish-language news outlet Siglo21′s article.
What can you do?
Sign the No More Deaths petition calling for the end of Border Patrol abuse:
If you are a Massachusetts resident, call the Boston City Police Commissioner Ed Davis to ask him to pull out of the Secure Communities Program at 617-343-4200.More >