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
My first visit to a refugee camp occurred in February of 1984. I was with a delegation of Church World Service staff visiting programs for the displaced in Central America. The Mesa Grande camp in Honduras housed about 30,000 Salvadoran refugees who had fled the civil conflict in their country. Most of the people there were campesinos, rural folks, who had lost land, livelihood, and frequently family members in the brutal civil war. They were traumatized by the violence and struggling as best they could to refashion their lives with next to nothing.

Their homes were assembled from scrap wood, canvas, cardboard, and whatever else could be scrounged from the surrounding area. They demonstrated a remarkable creativity and resilience, starting up small businesses (crafts, sewing or firewood mostly). And most surprising to me, the camp was quite orderly and clean, and almost every home had little pots with flowering plants outside their doorways. A small effort to bring some beauty and some hope into a desperate situation.

All these years later, it’s those flowers - growing in pots, cans and left-over bottles of Coke or detergent - that has remained most vivid in my mind.  They capture for me the creativity, resilience and determination of migrants everywhere to find and fashion a better, more beautiful life for themselves and their family.

The refugees of Mesa Grande had fled horrific violence. War and civil strife continue to be a primary driver for refugees and asylum seekers worldwide, but the dynamics have gotten much more complicated since then, especially in Central America. The forces compelling people to leave their county now include gang violence, crippling poverty, domestic violence and a deteriorating environment.

As the Diocese will be focusing in a special way on Climate Care in September, it seemed appropriate to reflect briefly on the ways climate change is affecting migration in Central America and more broadly.

Since about 25 percent of Central American countries’ workforce is employed in the agriculture sector, changing climate and natural disasters have a heavy impact on the population’s well-being. In 2015, for example, a massive drought plagued the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala), leading to financial disaster for farmers and resulting in a food shortage whose impact was most devastating on impoverished communities. Individuals who were already fearful of gang violence became even more motivated to leave their countries because the drought caused food insecurity. In the most heavily impacted areas, migrants cited “no food” as the main reason for leaving their country.

In December 2018, SJRAISE sponsored a webinar with British journalist Sean Hawkeye, who accompanied one of the “caravans” of Central American migrants from the northern border of Guatemala some 2000 miles to the U.S. border. His reflections on that experience are powerful and still timely. In particular, he emphasized the way that climate change, and especially drought, was forcing small-holder farmers to abandon their homes and head north. If you have the time, please listen to his compelling testimony.

Given the predicted shifts in the environment in coming years, experts at the World Bank claim that around 2 million people are likely to be displaced from Central America by the year 2050 due to factors related to climate change. 

Looking globally, the situation is even more challenging. In the absence of coordinated action on the part of the global community to mitigate ecological instability and recognize the plight of displaced people, there’s a risk of what some have called “climate apartheid.” In this scenario – climate change combined with closed borders and few migration pathways – millions of people would be forced to choose between increasingly insecure livelihoods and the perils of unauthorized migration. It’s estimated that by 2050 one in every 45 people in the world will have been displaced by climate change.

The point is, if you care about immigrants, you need to care about climate issues. Like those refugees at the Mesa Grande camp planting their flowers in the midst of disruption and suffering, we must tend to this “fragile earth, our island home” for our own sake and for the sake of all the people on this blue marble world. Care for creation touches on so many other issues: hunger, poverty, migration, and more. And, perhaps too, we can take inspiration from the refugees I met that day in Mesa Grande and the millions of other displaced and struggling people, who, faced with overwhelming odds, find in their hearts through prayer and sheer grit the determination to keep going, planting a new future as they go.

Holy and merciful God, we confess that we have failed to honor you by rightly claiming our kinship with all your creatures. We have walked heavily on your earth, overused and wasted its resources, taken for granted its beauty and abundance, and treated its inhabitants unjustly, holding future generations hostage to our greed. Have mercy on us and forgive us our sin. Renew in us the resolve to keep and conserve your earth as you desire and intend, with grateful and compassionate hearts, through your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Migration and Climate Change - IPCC. Migration and Climate Change, Oil Brown, International Organization for Migration, Geneva,

The Rev Deacon Tom Hampson is co-chair of SJRAISE and serves at St John the Baptist in Lodi

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!

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

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


From our partners at
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Take #actionforrefugees

Advocate for refugee resettlement with these 4 ways to take action:
  • Call Congress: From September 1st - 3rd, call 202-318-1612 or click here to tell your Members of Congress to hold the administration accountable to hold meaningful consultations and restore the resettlement program historic norms. Check out our new Refugee Advocacy Days Toolkit for a sample script.

  • Join Social Media: Amplify your message on social media with this social media toolkit & graphics to show your support for refugees.

  • Engage Media: Write letters-to-the-editor (LTEs) for your local media outlets. Here is a sample LTE that you can use/adapt for your message, as well as step-by-step instructions for how to draft, pitch, and place an LTE.

Prayers of the People for use in Ordinary Time
SJRAISE Immigration prayers for all congregations Year A 2020

The following biddings are meant to be added, and modified to the current Prayers of the People format used by each congregation. The intention here is to include one bidding regarding Immigration for each Church Year Season. The reference to DACA recipients may be included at any time as the issue is being reviewed and decided currently.

Petitions for Prayers of the People
(contributed by Rev. Luis Rodriguez & Deacon Amy Larsen)

2nd Sunday after Pentecost thru 8th Sunday after Pentecost (June 14-July 26)
Lord God, be with those who seek our nation’s welcome, and with all those living in uncertain circumstances. Sustain them in hope, and challenge our own self-satisfaction in the face of their needs. 

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


At a time when we are all vulnerable to COVID-19 and feeling scared and uncertain, may we remember that refugees continue to be particularly vulnerable - many children, women, and men live in refugee camps where social distancing is not possible and healthcare is not accessible. May we hold our refugee siblings in prayer.
God of new life,
As your people seek refuge in a time of uncertainty,
When borders are closed, resettlement halted, and services limited,
May your presence be known:
You have not abandoned them, the refugees.
When Mary wept at your tomb, you came to her.
Unrecognized at first, but you were there
With arms open to receive.
May we, the global community, imitate you,
Bringing comfort to the brokenhearted here on earth.
When all seems lost along the journey, with the world sealed off,
may we be there, despite the distance,
With arms open to receive.
Prayer from Jesuit Refugee Service

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