The Episcopal church supports various social justice initiatives as part of God’s calling to us as Christians to create a Beloved Community of peace, justice, reconciliation, and faithful stewardship of God’s creation. Deacon Tim invites parishioners to join him in supporting social justice initiatives in the city including anti-gun violence, reconciliation between the police and the community, and anti-human trafficking, prayer vigils for and accompaniment of un-documented immigrants to federal deportation hearings, support and care for newly arrived refugees in the Bay Area. In the future he will post on our website the timing of volunteer training and events supporting these and other initiatives. Please contact Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to join him in initiatives to help bring social justice to our community or if you would like to propose justice ministries for involvement by the parish!
St. Mary’s Justice Ministry Supporting Asylum for Floricel
Submitted by David Crosson
Wednesday, June 6th, seven St. Mary’s parishioners joined about forty other people in support of an immigrant’s attempt to receive asylum in the United States. Her name is Floricel, and you can read her full story here: https://mailchi.mp/2ab873996a4b/meet-floricel-mother-of-3-detained-by-ice-182837.
Floricel was convicted of a DWI in 2016 and sentenced to a treatment program, which she fully completed. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents used that conviction to attempt to deport her. For 18 months, An ICE administrative judge used the DUI as can excuse through five hearings to keep Floricel incarcerated as a “threat to society,” all while awaiting the hearing on her request for asylum. The ICE judge is not a federal court judge, but an administrative judge within the Office of Homeland Security. Her actions and decisions can be appealed both within ICE and through federal courts.
In Feb. 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a 5-4 vote that undocumented immigrants could be held indefinitely by federal authorities without habeas corpus (a hearing to determine cause), because, in the court’s opinion, undocumented immigrants are not really in the U.S. In a stinging dissent, Justice Breyer argued that no court has taken this position since slavery. The ICE administrative court used the Supreme Court decision to keep Floricel incarcerated for nearly a year and a half.
Then, this spring, after two hearings that some from St. Mary’s attended, a 9th circuit federal judge ordered Floricel’s release–without bond. (The judge wryly noted that Floricel had spent more time in ICE detention than she would have spent in civil jail if convicted of the DWI.) Floricel’s release was scheduled the same day that ICE administrative court was to hold the hearing on Floricel’s appeal for asylum. Even with the knowledge of her release, the court decided to hold the hearing, and Floricell was on camera from a holding room in a detention center. We sat and watched as, about an hour into the hearing, a guard entered Floricel’s room and informed the judge, via camera, that he was removing Floricel for release.
The only way that I can even begin to tell you how much St. Mary’s participation meant is to direct us all back to the faces of Floricel and her daughter, Jennifer. With the support of hundreds of people over the past eighteen months, Floricel was able to attend Jennifer’s high school graduation last week. Their joy and gratitude tell it all. This is living the Kingdom of God in the World. This is Justice Ministry.
The Sojourner Among Us
A Series of Programs on Immigration
Sponsored by the Immigration Working Group
St. Mary’s Justice Ministries
“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:34)
“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. . . .” (Mathew 25:35)
An Invitation to Christian Formation
As Christians, we are called to welcome the stranger and honor the sojourner among us. Yet there are few contemporary issues that are as contentious as immigration. St. Mary’s Immigration Working Group is sponsoring a series of programs, both preceding and during World Refugee Week (June 17-24), to explore how we, as Christians, welcome immigrants and are called to live our faith with those who sojourn among us. Please join us for these informative, and hopefully transformative, opportunities of Christian formation.
Summer in the City Adult Formation Series
This series began with the two speakers listed below outlining their topics:
John Kramar is an Elder at Old First Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, with a life’s calling to welcome the sojourner among us. He an immigration attorney with twenty-six years as a civil servant with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). After a look at scripture to identify our Christian responsibility to immigrants, John will explore the foundations of immigration in the U.S., the current state of our immigration system, and “hot button” issues, as we identify them, that call for faith-filled responses.
Sara Miles introduced us to the realities facing immigrants in our own community today. Sara is the accompaniment coordinator for Faith in Action Bay Area (FIABA), a network of interfaith congregations and community leaders working to uphold the dignity of all people. Sara served for ten years as the Director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, and is founder and director of The Food Pantry, which provides free fresh groceries to 400 families a week. Sara is author of several books on being a Christian in the contemporary world. www.saramiles.net)
Justice Ministry at St. Mary’s
A committed group of St. Mary’s parishioners have come together to live our Christian call to justice. As the Rev. David Erickson phrases it, the goal of justice ministry is “to address systemic evil with systemic good.” Justice goes beyond charity to address the systems that cause and support injustice. In addition to feeding the hungry, for instance, justice asks that we identify and address the sources of hunger. Cornell West says that “justice is what love looks like in public.” Justice invites us to recognize the incarnate Christ in everyone and actively live our Baptismal covenant to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”
Currently, St. Mary’s Justice Ministry includes three working groups: (a) homelessness and housing, (b) immigration, and (c) youth/policing. However, living justice is an organic process of individual and group discernment that will continue to respond directly to the needs of our communities. If you want to become involved, contact one of these Justice Ministry facilitators: Margaret Stafford (email@example.com), Kathleen Murray (Kathleen.firstname.lastname@example.org), David Crosson (email@example.com).