photo credit: Wall Street Journal
The constant inflex of violence in the world today has desensitized us to the pain and destruction that is occurring all around us. Violence invades our computer screens, televisions sets, and radios. We are constantly being flooded with the sights and sounds of violence and have become unable or unwilling to feel the trauma of these events.

By the time this article is read we will have passed through Christmas. We will have experienced Epiphany and have heard about the Wisemen’s journey to see the Christ child. We may have also heard about the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt. What we may have not heard about or may have overlooked is the slaughter of the innocence. This event is often breezed over or just cut out of the story.
I remember in one of my bible studies classes in college the instructor stating: “this story is not important! “He stated,” there is no scientific evidence that the event ever took place and even if it did Bethlehem was such a small town that the slaughter would have involved only about a dozen or so boys at most.” When did the killing of an innocent person become not important?

The story tells us that the Holy family flees Bethlehem because they are told in a dream that Herod is looking to kill the child Jesus. Today many are likewise fleeing their country in fear for their life. When they arrive here at our borders what do they find? A welcoming safe place? Not really!

As early as World War two the US has been turning refugees out, returning them to their country and sentencing them to their deaths.

As the M.S. St. Louis cruised off the coast of Miami in June 1939, its passengers could see the lights of the city glimmering. But the United States had not been on the ship’s original itinerary, and its passengers did not have permission to disembark in Florida. As the more than 900 Jewish passengers looked longingly at the twinkling lights, they hoped against hope that they could land. Those hopes would soon be dashed by immigration authorities, sending the ship back to Europe. And then, nearly a third of the passengers on the St. Louis were murdered!

Still today human rights experts warn that in its haste to expel or deter undocumented immigrants, the US government is scrimping on its obligation to provide asylum to those genuinely in peril in violation of international law. The US government continues deporting Central American migrants to their deaths. A Guardian investigation into consequences of Obama’s migration crackdown reveals US deportees have been murdered shortly after return to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, with the study saying as many as 83 were killed since 2014.
When is enough, enough? How many innocent deaths does it take to become significant? Thousands? Hundreds? Ten or one! How can we say we are living our baptismal vows when we permit innocent people to be sent to their death? Yet you can say "That's the government. I have nothing to do with that!” But by choosing to be silent you are choosing to be complacent. Speak out! Stop the senseless murder of the innocent.

The Rev. Deacon Amy Larsen is a member of SJRAISE and serves at St James Episcopal Church in Sonora.
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Cleaner look, new navigation tools and great ways to get involved and contribute to the ministry of SJRAISE!
Wrapped in Love

Nothing says love like a homemade quilt. Throughout our nation immigrant individuals are missing home, community, and family. The congregations of Episcopal Church of the Saviour and St James Lutheran in Hanford couldn't agree more. So when their new shared pastor showed up with 12 boxes of quilting fabric and news of the need for quilts for our immigrant communities, they took to the sewing machines.  

Pastor Julie Kelly arrived from Southern California and was active in care of the recently arrived folks in her community. Earlier this year, she received an email sharing stories of folks who walked to the U.S. border and were stuck in tent cities, awaiting entrance to the American Dream. Along with a need for food and medical supplies they were askign for trashbags to be distributed in the tent cities of Tijauna, Tecate, and Mexicali. What shocked her was to learn they were not for trash, but to sleep under.  

When she shared this with others, the first response was, "Well why can't our quilters make quilts?" The team at SJRAISE agreed and a shared ministry between EDSJ and Sierra Pacific Synod the ELCA was born. 

Due to the limitations of what individuals can carry, the quilts are smaller than a twin and larger than a crib blanket (45x60); big enough an adult can curl up under them and be warm. Better yet, while still small enough to put in a backpack, they are a size that can be wrapped around a person who is alone, afraid, and unsure of what is next.  

Due to COVID and immigration developments, this love ministry is still securing modes of transport and distribution that will be effective and useful for those in need, but they already have the first request for 100 in Nogales!  If you would like to support this ministry through your time, talents, or treasure, email Pastor Julie
It is time to say good-bye to 2020, and look toward the possibilities 2021 offers toward justice for immigrants and communities impacted by incarceration. As we welcome a new year and a new administration, our work is far from complete. Now is the moment to deepen our faith and sharpen our organizing skills!

East Bay Housing Organizations, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, and Oakland Peace Center are offering a Two-Day Faith-Rooted Organizing Training, January 8 & 9This will be an opportunity to come together and discern how to organize for a better tomorrow.

WHO: All people wanting to deepen their spiritually-rooted non-violent organizing, direct action, and change-making. Previous experience not required!

WHAT: This two-part training will deepen your understanding of the theory and skills of how to be an impactful organizer. It will help you to tap into your organizing values, motivations, and visions. It will help you more fully integrate the gifts of your faith and religious practices into your social justice work. Grounded in a feminist framework and non-violent resistance, it will connect you to a rich organizing model and ethos that grows out of the civil rights movement, international liberation struggles, and labor rights movement in the U.S.

For participants who can, we ask for a $30-75 donation for the two day training.

COVID-19 Resources for Immigrants
(in Spanish)

Guía para Inmigrantes de California + Listos California Esta guía proporciona consejos sobre los servicios, incluyendo los beneficios públicos, que están disponibles para los inmigrantes californianos, incluidos algunos que están disponibles independientemente de su estatus migratorio. Visite para obtener más información. 

Calls to Action, Training and Resources
Epiphany 2021
This curriculum is an adaptable and flexible series that may be used at any time of year. It is based upon the Gospel of Mark, using the daily reading schedule from the Good Book Club. Request Epiphany curriculum here. The Good Book Club is an invitation to all Episcopalians to join in reading the Gospel of John during Epiphany 2021. For readings, resources, partner organizations, and more, visit
If you are seeking opportunities to connect to a community of welcomers and advocates, you are cordially invited to join one of EMM’s ministry networks. These are vibrant virtual spaces for conversation, collaboration, and taking action, together. We would love to have you join us:
  • EMM’s Immigrant Detention Ministry Network meets the first Monday of the month, 12:00-1:15pm(EST) Click here to register
  • EMM’s Asylum Ministry Network meets the third Monday of the month, 12:00-1:15pm (EST) Click here to register
PBS series: Latino Americans
On December 4, 2020, a federal judge ordered the government to fully
reinstate the DACA program.

Per the New York Times December 4, 2020, article: “Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn directed the administration on Friday to allow newly eligible immigrants to file new applications for protection under the program, reversing a memorandum issued in the summer by Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, which restricted the program to people who were already enrolled. As many as 300,000 new applicants could now be eligible, according to the lawyers who pushed for the reinstatement.”


The collection of artwork comes from the Tornillo Children's Detention Camp where close to 3,000 unaccompanied minors from Central and South America were held. Art was a way to express their faith, the love of their family and friends, and pride in their homeland.

To learn more about the artwork, read this article from the New York Times



Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) has developed a toolkit for supporting immigrants currently in detention.


Prayers of the People for use in Ordinary Time
SJRAISE Petitions for Prayers of the People:
Advent through Epiphanytide (2020-21)

First Sunday in Advent
O God, reveal to us your Son’s coming in the cry of justice among all those who come to this country seeking work and a better life. 

Second Sunday in Advent
O God, reveal to us your Son’s coming in all those who seek to make straight the often crooked pathways of our nation’s immigration laws and practices.

Third Sunday in Advent
O God, reveal to us your Son’s coming in all those who long for the year of the Lord’s favor and in all those who work for the compassionate and just treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers.

Fourth Sunday in Advent
O God, reveal to us your Son’s coming in all women who live in danger and fear due their immigration status.

First Sunday after Christmas
O God, may we recognize your Son come to us in the many immigrant children placed at risk by indifferent policies and systems.

Second Sunday after Christmas
O God, hear the anguish of all refugee families who have been separated: parents who search for their children in anguish and desperation, children who live in loneliness and fear.

First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of the Lord
O God, make known your light and glory by in us by a deeper conviction that we are all your children precious and beloved, beyond any borders or divisions.

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
O God, make known your light and glory by our gratitude for all immigrant farm workers who raise our food.

Third Sunday after the Epiphany
O God, make known your light and glory our appreciation for immigrant service workers who make possible our common life.

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
O God, make known your light and glory by our thankfulness for all immigrant domestic workers who contribute to the well-being of our homes and households.

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
O God, make known your light and glory in a reformed and more compassionate attitude towards those who seek a better home in country.

Last Sunday after the Epiphany
O God, make known your light and glory and reveal the face of your Son in all those considered aliens and yet instrumental to our nation’s well-being.

Prayer in a time of pandemic​
Loving God, throughout the Scriptures you call us to “Fear not!”, but these are troubling times for the hardiest souls. Give us courage to face the challenges of this new threat to your human family. Give us prudence, to do the necessary things to protect ourselves and others. Give us the clarity of vision to learn from this disease the lesson we are too prone to forget, that we are all connected, regardless of race or nationality or political persuasion. We pray for those who are struggling with this disease, that their health may be restored. We pray for medical personnel and first responders caring for those in need, that they remain healthy and unflagging in their life-saving work. And we pray for all those economically impacted, that they may find the resources to maintain themselves and their families.  We ask all this, trusting in your abiding love, a love that even death cannot defeat. Amen.

Written by Deacon Tom Hampson, Diocese of San Joaquin

Special Prayers for Immigrants During COVID-19

Oh Lord; in this time of Covid-19 as we take shelter in our homes, we ask you to spread your love and healing over our brothers and sisters held in overcrowded detention centers and refugee camps. 
We ask Lord that you may soften the hearts of those in authority, that them may care for our sisters and brothers in this time of crises.

We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen

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