Holy Welcome and Advocacy

In just two weeks, we will vote on a resolution to declare the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin to be a “Diocese of Holy Welcome and Advocacy for immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees.”

Holy Welcome. Sound familiar, biblically speaking? Well, it should. Throughout the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, we are taught that welcome and hospitality are necessary to be a people of God. For the desert people of ancient Egypt, welcoming the stranger – an “alien” - into one’s home, providing food and shelter, was a necessity to survival and a cultural expectation. One example is found in Leviticus 19:33-34, which says “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” And from Hebrews 13:1-2, “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Indeed, the hospitality we are expected to offer to strangers is analogous to the hospitality God shows us – providing us all things necessary for salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And, in the sending of the Holy Spirit as an Advocate for us!

Indeed, we profess to believe this in our prayers and worship. But what does this look like in our lives at home, at church, and in our very own communities? Said differently, how exactly do I, in my home and in my congregation, embody this holy welcoming and advocacy?
What this resolution says, in essence, is that the commitment to the safety and well-being of immigrants in our communities is not just the work of the Commission, but of the entire diocese and each individual congregation. Voting YES! on this resolution commits the Diocese and its congregations to:

·        study on the complex issues surrounding immigrants and refugees
·        engagement with immigrant communities and their advocates in the area
·        advocacy on behalf of immigrant rights
·        support for the work of the Immigration Commission
·        identify a parish liaison to the Commission
·        discernment about ways to be places of refuge and healing for immigrants

The Immigration Commission chose to frame these commitments in a way that allows each congregation to interpret how it fulfills them. Our desire is that each congregation take ownership of its Holy Welcome in a way that is at once a stretch and a challenge – and achievable.

And so, when this Resolution passes at our Diocesan Convention, as we hope and pray it will, we invite you to locate resources you can use in your congregation on our website (www.sjraise.org): prayers and litanies, lists of our partner groups working for immigrant justice, learning opportunities such as Immigration 101 and discussion groups such as “No Longer Strangers,” a link to the video production of “Uncaged Art,” opportunities to offer your financial support to SJ Raise and our partners, items to buy.
When the efforts of all of us, as individuals in our congregations, merge together, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin truly can be a place of Holy Welcome and Advocacy. Thanks be to God!

The Rev. Deacon Nancy Key is the co-chair of SJRAISE and serves at St James Cathedral in Fresno.

3rd Annual
Border Ministries Summit

Join us for the Virtual Border Ministries Summit 2020 and hear from those at the center of the immigrant community in San Diego. Our focus will be on Christian Peacemaking in a World of Conflict. Learn from undocumented people, deportees, first generation immigrants and Christian leaders who live in Tijuana and San Diego. We will hear from Episcopal / Anglican Bishops and other leaders on both sides of the border, as well as from the Border Patrol and legal experts. We will not only learn about immigration but will be equipped with tangible Christian Peacemaking practices to live out in our own contexts as Everyday Peacemakers. The pain is real and the opportunity for transformation and healing is as well. This is the Third Annual Border Summit, designed for Episcopal and other Christians wanting more information about the US-Mexico border, and for those who want to learn the basics of becoming Christian Peacemakers in this time of deep division.

November 20 & 21, 2020

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 pastorjuliekelly@gmail.com
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 COVID19.ca.gov para obtener más información. 

Calls to Action, Training and Resources
Rebuilding the US Refugee Program
for the 21st Century

The United States must learn from past experiences—from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks through the Trump administration—to rebuild a resilient refugee resettlement program.

Rapid Response Networks Expose ICE’s Raids Threatening Public Health In California 

Communities report arrests in multiple locations in California in what appears to be a coordinated operation placing public health at risk.

From the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

The ILRC’s Immigration Preparedness Toolkit is a resource-packed informational document designed to help immigrants with no legal status or in mixed status families begin to understand the immigration legal landscape and plan for their own journey through an ever-changing, complex system in the United States. This free toolkit offers in-depth, yet easily accessible information that outlines the basics about a variety of topics including: your rights during ICE confrontations, the different types of immigration options available, ideas for building your consultation roadmap, and tips on covering your bases while waiting for relief. This 13-page resource also incorporates links to other helpful reference documents, fact sheets, and tools readers can use to construct their own personalized plan.



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

In August, Netflix released a six-episode docuseries titled "Immigration Nation" and Time Magazine, the LA Times and the NY Times are all calling it "the most important docuseries in 2020".  Co-directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz’s six-part series offers a complex, 360-degree view of the American immigration system, combining in-depth research, empathetic storytelling and bold investigative journalism into a uniquely urgent humanitarian appeal. 

To read more about the docuseries, check out the following articles and be sure to catch this important series on Netflix!



From the Office of
Government Relations (TEC)



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


An Update on DACA


US is detaining migrant children in hotels


Resolution to be a Diocese of Holy Welcome and Advocacy
(to be voted on at Convention)

Resolved, That the 61st Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin declares itself to be a Diocese of Holy Welcome and Advocacy for immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees;

Resolved, That the Diocese of San Joaquin and its congregations join with other immigrant rights allies to educate, organize and advocate for just and humane federal immigration and refugee polices that protect the safety and security of all immigrants and refugees;

Resolved, That the diocese designates the Sunday nearest June 20 (World Refugee Day) as Immigrant/Refugee Sunday, and that annually on that Sunday, each congregation take a special collection in support of the work of the EDSJ Immigration Commission;

Resolved, That each congregation select one member to serve as liaison to the Immigration Commission in their congregation;

Resolved, That in accordance with Scripture and our Baptismal Covenant, the congregations of the Diocese of San Joaquin discern ways they may serve as places of welcome, refuge, and healing to protect the dignity and human rights of all people including immigrants and refugees;

Resolved, That the Diocese of San Joaquin though its Immigration Commission, assist in equipping and supporting each congregation in identifying ways to extend Holy Welcome and Advocacy to immigrants and refugees.

Explanation: Throughout our country’s history immigrant families have suffered on the margins of our society. They have been scapegoated during difficult economic times and victimized by harsh anti-immigrant ordinances passed by some states and localities. Because of increasingly hostile policies, migrants and immigrants in this country fear more than ever the break-up of their families, the loss of homes and business, and the destruction of the lives they have built in this country, often over decades.

Of particular concern are the efforts to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants, including veterans who have served honorably in the US Military, utilizing “Expedited Deportation” without Due Process for individuals NOT convicted of a felony or violent crime, and threatening to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that has granted temporary relief for thousands of young people in our communities and families with U.S. Citizen children.

As people of God, we believe that Holy Scripture calls us to welcome the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19, Leviticus 19:34, Matthew 25:35), and therefore as a people of faith we commit to challenge oppressive systems and build structures and communities that reflect God’s compassion and justice.

This resolution puts our faith into action by standing with the growing number of communities of faith, cities, colleges and organizations declaring themselves places of welcome, refuge, and healing for those targeted by hate due to immigration status or some perceived status of difference. What does it mean to be a diocese of Holy

Welcome and Advocacy?
• Education & Advocacy including signing petitions, attending hearings on relevant legislation, and/or participation in civic demonstrations;
• Accompaniment of Immigration Families or Youth, which usually involves members of the congregation, supported by the prayers of the congregation, accompanying families to hearings and providing emotional support;
• Networks of Protection & Rapid Response, which can involve being present at ICE raids to ensure compliance with law and accountability;
• Practical assistance for persons facing deportation and support of individuals and families seeking refuge.

Submitted by: The Rev’d Deacon Nancy Key and The Rev’d Deacon Tom Hampson

Endorsed by: EDSJ Immigration Commission (SJRAISE)
Prayers of the People for use in Ordinary Time

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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