Welcome to the first installment of the SJRAISE monthly newsletter! Our goal - to provide you and your congregation with timely and useful resources for your efforts to stand with immigrants in our Diocese and beyond.
In this and future issues, look for news, educational materials, worship resources, calls to action, and potential allies in this important work. While the struggle to defend the rights of immigrants can be daunting, there is a wide community of folks in the church and beyond who are engaged in the work with you. You are not alone! We hope this newsletter and that community make your efforts easier!
Several of us from the SJRAISE team were privileged to participate in the Second Annual Border Ministries Summit, Nov. 21-23, in Tucson, Arizona. It gave us an inspiring glimpse of that wider community. Hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, the ecumenical meeting gathered two hundred activists from along the United States/Mexico border and beyond. There were groups involved in many forms of direct service to immigrants, both in the U.S. and in Mexico, others were engaged in political advocacy, seeking a more just and humane U.S. immigration policy. Others were engaged in education on the issue. And some were doing all three.
In coming issues we’ll be lifting up some of those groups. Today, I’d like to recall one such effort, Take Up the Cross. Begun by artist Alicia Baucom, Take Up the Cross seeks to personalize the sobering statistics of unidentified migrant deaths in the Pima County area of Southern Arizona - an area of deadly heat, rough desert terrain and poisonous reptiles. Since 2001, some 3000 migrants have died in this area; more that 1/3 of them remain unidentified. Imagine the families they’ve left behind and/or the ones that awaited them. No news. No way to know what’s become of them.
The Reverend Deacon Tom Hampson is the Co-chair of the EDSJ Immigration Commission.
San Joaquin Refugee and Immigrant Support and Empowerment (SJRaise) is the Immigration Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.