Recently, I heard someone describe Jesus as a social justice mover and shaker. I loved the descriptor. It brought to mind an opinion piece I read in The New York Times by Peter Wehner titled “The Forgotten Radicalism of Jesus Christ.” It is an essay on inclusion - how and why Jesus rejected the, “conventional religious and cultural thinking” of his time, shattering “barrier after barrier” to embrace those on the margins. Wehner begins by recounting some of the many acts of Jesus’ ministry: Jesus speaking with, and giving redemption to, the shunned Samaritan woman at the well during a time in history, and in a culture, where women had little status and Jews “despised” Samaritans; Jesus touching lepers who were “considered to be “impure”; Jesus healing a paralytic and a blind man, considered to be “worthless and useless”; Jesus making a hero of “a hated foreigner” in the parable of the good Samaritan - all outreach to outcasts. 

“Why was a hallmark of Jesus’s ministry intimacy with and the inclusion of the unwanted and the outcast, men and women living in the shadow of society...,” Werner asks? He answers, “Jesus sees indelible dignity and inestimable worth in every person, and he has “compassion and empathy” for those on the margins. And, says Wehner, “Jesus modeled inclusion and solidarity with the ‘unclean’ and marginalized not only for their sake but for the sake of the powerful and the privileged and for the good of the whole.”  

Werner acknowledges our human tendencies to be judgmental, to be “tribal,” to see those who are different from us as, “the other,” someone to be threatened by and to make an enemy of. And, Werner goes on to say that Jesus knows the privileged and the powerful have something to learn from the outcasts who could teach them the “virtues humility,” “the vice of supreme certitude” and a “different prism” through which to see God, “as a dispenser of grace” and “a source of comfort.” “The lowly, says Wehner, can offer a “corrective to the spiritual astigmatisms that develop among the rest of us.” 

As I read all this, I could only agree. I clearly saw it as a social justice message, one that should inform not only our personal actions, but our public policies. Werner’s assessment of Jesus modeling inclusion and solidarity for the good of the whole, the outcast and the privileged, was powerful. So was the perspective of the “lowly” offering a “corrective” spiritual view to the rest of us. The Oxford dictionary defines whole, as “all of,” and wholeness as “completeness” or “unbroken.” By using Wehner’s prism of ideas, I see Jesus’ embrace of outcasts, those on the margins, as helping to bring all of us from brokenness to completeness. It is through the process of inclusion, seeing the “imago Dei” - the dignity and worth in everyone, that helps bring us to wholeness.  

As Wehner nears the conclusion of his essay, he asks who are the “modern outcasts,” “... the people we despise but whom Jesus welcomes...,” and how are we treating them? I would answer that we know who today’s outcast are. All we have to do is look to the margins; when we see our brothers and sisters there, we also know how we are treating them.

Before closing his essay, Wehner urges Christians,“ to think through” how Jesus’ example applies to the times in which they live. “We need our sensibilities to align more with his.” Peter Wehner’s essay reveals how faith based the call to social justice is; and though the message is being delivered by Wehner, it was not sent from him. 

Ms. Barbara Gallman is a member of SJRAISE and worships at St James Cathedral in Fresno.
Updates from Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Here is a fact sheet on President Biden's immigration bill
Here is IRLC's blueprint for President Biden's administration on immigration
Here is information on how to file an initial DACA application
Here is information on Public Charge and Medi-Cal in California
Here is the latest update on TPS (Temporary Protected Status)

10 Immigration Policy Changes That Have Already Gone into Effect

The following is a list of 10 of the immigration policy changes that have taken place since January 20, 2021: 

1. On January 20, 2021, President Biden revoked the “Muslim Travel Ban.” President Biden signed an executive order that stopped discriminatory immigration bans and ordered embassies to “resume visa processing in a manner consistent with the revocation” of what was known as the “Muslim Ban.” 

2. On January 20, 2021, and February 2, 2021, new enforcement priorities were given to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. ICE was advised to focus on identifying immigrants who are deemed a national security threat, were arrested at the border after Nov. 1, 2020, or have been convicted of an aggravated felony such as murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, simple battery, drug trafficking, trafficking in firearms or destructive devices.) 

3. On January 20, 2021, President Biden ordered that everyone counted in the census should be used to apportion congressional seats. President Biden revoked the previous executive order that tried to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted as part of the “Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census.” The new order directed “the Commerce Secretary to ensure that the apportionment base and state-level tabulations include all inhabitants without regard to immigration status.” 

4. Halted construction of Trump’s southern border wall. On January 20, 2021, President Biden stopped work on the construction of the southern border wall.  

5. Reaffirmed protections for DACA recipients. On January 20, 2021, President Biden “issued a memorandum directing the DHS Secretary, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA.” 

6. On February 2, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to establish a task force to reunite the children of migrant families that were previously separated. The administration is working to stop separating families.  

7. On February 2, 2021, as part of humane immigration reform the Biden administration revoked the public charge rule as grounds of inadmissibility.  

8. President Biden is trying to rebuild a humane asylum system in the face of opposition from the union representing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. 

9. Executive orders that will restore opportunities for foreign workers and students to enter the country that were decreased during the previous administration. 
10. President Biden has promised to eliminate the Migrant Protection Protocols (AKA “Remain in Mexico”), which forces migrant asylum seekers to wait in Mexico in horrid conditions while their asylum cases are processed in the court 

This list was collated by Dr. Jim Mendez of SJRAISE and St James Cathedral, Fresno

Wrapped in Love
Blessing of the Blankets

On Thursday, February 18, Bishop David, Canon Anna & Padre Nelson traveled to Episcopal Church of the Saviour in Hanford to meet with Pastor Julie Kelly to bless almost 100 blankets that had been made by members of Church of the Saviour and St James ELCA.

The blankets will be sent to our friends in the Diocese of Arizona to be distributed to those awaiting to cross the border in Nogales, Mexico.

If you are a quilter and would like to contribute to the Wrapped in Love project, or if you would like to provide financial assistance for mailing and supplies, please contact Pastor Julie at:

To view the video of the blessing of the blankets and hear from Pastor Julie and quilter, Jean Wright, click here
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
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from our partners at
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Episcopal Migration:

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On February 5, Episcopal Migration Ministries released a statement which you can read here responding to the Biden administration's restoration of the refugee resettlement program.
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



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:
Lent & Easter 2021

Third Sunday in Lent
Open, O God, our hearts and lives to the conditions under which aliens live in our country and gives us a willingness to meet their needs.

Fourth Sunday in Lent
Heal, O God, this nation of prejudice and racism that we may embrace with kind hearts the many immigrants who live within our borders.

Fifth Sunday in Lent
Open, O God the doors of our communities to all who seek your Son and search for safety among his people.

Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Enter, O God, into the injustice in our cities, country and world and turn us towards your coming kingdom.

Easter Day
Bring into new life, O God, all who proclaim the resurrection of your Christ and shed light upon all those who live in the darkness of uncertainty due to their immigration status.

Second Sunday of Easter
Bring into fullness of life, O God, all immigrants who live hidden and in fear for their safety.

written by Rev. Luis Rodriguez, St Paul's Bakersfield

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, St John's Lodi

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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