Please Respond to the Crisis of Unaccompanied Children
On Sunday, July 13, the Rev. Sarah Henkel presented the following Minute for Mission to the White Plains Presbyterian Church. Please read it carefully and you consider how to respond to this crisis.
Many of you have heard us lift up in prayer or heard stories in the news about the growing number of unaccompanied children from Central America who are coming to the United States seeking safety. It’s estimated that between 60,000 and 90,000 children, ranging in age from 1-18 will arrive in the U.S. this year, the majority traveling from three countries: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The majority of children are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries; others are seeking out family members who already live in the United States. A United Nations report approximates that over half of the children qualify for protection under international law, refugee or asylee status.
This is a complex issue. To fully understand what is happening we are asked to educate ourselves about the root causes of the migration of children seeking refuge, which have a long history in economic and foreign policy involvement of the United States in Central America. We are asked to wade into the complex politics around the formation of immigration law. We will do this together as a faith community.
This is a complex situation and it is one that demands a clear and compassionate response from us as people of faith. Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, of the Presbyterian Church (USA) issued a statement this week reminding us that, “In the Presbyterian tradition, the congregation as a whole covenants with a family to nurture their children in the faith. We look after one another’s children. We corporately tend to their safety and growth. The children arriving at our borders are no less in need of nurturance and no less bearing the likeness of God.”
What can we do? We’re inviting you to three actions today:
1) Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is working with congregations and Presbyteries on the U.S.-Mexico border as they minister to children seeking safety and sanctuary. PDA is asking for our financial assistance as they organize these efforts. If you would like to donate, you can write a check to White Plains Presbyterian Church with “PDA” in the memo line or donate online here.
2) The Office of Public Witness of the Presbyterian Church is asking us to take action by contacting our senators and representatives to ask for additional funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement as they respond to an increasing demand for the work that they do to protect the basic needs of children arriving here. After worship I will be at a table outside where you can sign a letter to your representative which we will mail on Monday. [Copies of the letter and local addresses may be downloaded here]
3) I will also have a “reaching out” sheet for you to sign. It is a thank you note – a love note – that we will mail to several congregations on the border who have opened their sanctuaries and fellowship halls to be shelter for children who have made a very long journey. Some of these congregations have received hate mail because of the compassion they have shown to children. We will send them love mail.
We worship a savior – Jesus – who as a small child that crossed a border, fleeing persecution. He traveled with his parents and we cannot doubt that Jesus now travels with all children who travel alone.