Posts Tagged ‘Patricia de Jong’

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Young Ones Fleeing Central America

July 16, 2014

by Patricia de Jong, Senior Minister

migrantchildrenMany of us having been reading and hearing stories about the wave of children and youth from Central American who are crossing over the boarder into the southwest of the United States, many of them unaccompanied. But First Church member Jennifer Fisher has taken the next step—encouraging our congregation to take concrete action to address the needs of these young immigrants. And she will get in a truck full of supplies and drive if that is the right thing to do.

Jennifer’s desire to respond has been galvanizing and a meeting has been set up for Wednesday, July 16 at 7:00 pm in the Sunburst Room. Anyone who is interested in learning more about this challenging situation and to discern the best way for First Church to respond are invited to attend.

Although this surge has ignited much political debate, Jennifer has her eyes squarely on the human story:  “Everyone can argue both sides of the immigration issue, that does not matter. What matters is these kids have traveled hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles on a rough road to get here and many are victims of violence, upheaval and economic hardships in their country. People willing to make that kind of hazardous, unsafe, dusty, dry, and arduous trip are usually doing it to save their lives. ”

In testimony before Congress administration members described the situation this way: “We face an urgent situation in the Rio Grande Valley Last fiscal year, Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 24,000 unaccompanied children at the border. By mid-June of this fiscal year, that number has doubled to more than 52,000. Those from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras make up about three quarters of that migration…[T]his is a humanitarian issue as much as it is a matter of border security. We are talking about large numbers of children, without their parents, who have arrived at our border—hungry, thirsty, exhausted, scared and vulnerable. How we treat the children, in particular, is a reflection of our laws and our values.”

This wave of immigration has excited strong feelings. I heard on the radio that at one rally protesting the arrival of these children a woman held a sign that said “Not our children, Not our problem.” I must emphatically disagree. Jesus clearly calls us to care for the hungry and the thirsty. We are all neighbors and when our neighbors are in need, we are called to act.

Join Jennifer and I on Wednesday night and be prepared to respond to a special call for funds to provide relief for at least some of these children.

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Here are some online resources about the wave of young immigrants coming to the US from Central America:

•   A comprehensive article called “Life Ended There” by Susan Terrio, professor of anthropology at Georgetown University, author of Whose Child Am I? Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody: http://tinyurl.com/lifeendedthere

•   An article about how social service agencies that work with the immigration community in San Francisco are being stretched by this situation: http://tinyurl.com/agenciesstretched

•   Transcript of testimony by administration officials at a hearing titled “Challenges at the Border”: http://tinyurl.com/challengesattheborder

•   A clear picture of the increase in this sort of immigration based on data from Customs and Border Protection: www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-border-unaccompanied-children

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More about First Church Berkeley…

 

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The Rights of Women

March 16, 2012

by Patricia de Jong
Senior Minister, First Church Berkeley, UCC

Senior Minister Patricia de JongThe Women of the World Summit in New York City this week celebrated the gifts of women and girls throughout the world. Keynote speaker Hillary Clinton spoke about the responsibility of the US as a role model for women around the world by standing up for women’s rights here and throughout the world. She reminded the audience that women should always have the right to make their own choices about what they wear, how they worship, the causes they support and, finally, “the right to control the decisions we make about our own health and our own bodies.”

Her message reemphasized the importance of our nation’s role in the rest of the world, especially with regards to how governments treat women.

At the halfway mark in this extraordinary season of Lent, it is good to remember that Jesus took a similar stand when it came to the role and rights of women in his time. He publicly included women as his disciples, infuriating religious leaders. He healed women as readily and powerfully as he healed men and he even took on the issue of divorce, announcing that men and women had the right to divorce the other.

Walter Wink asserts that Jesus violated the mores of his time in just about every encounter with women that are recorded in all four of the Gospels. Do you remember who was standing at the foot of the cross on Good Friday? And to whom Jesus first appeared after the crucifixion? The Gospels present us with a prophet who turned the expectations of the world as it was upside down, pointing toward liberation for all people, especially the poor, who were often women.

Our Lent journey touches on matters of life and death, not just for ourselves, but for the difficult issues confronting our world and the people who live in it. For women and girls in this country and in all countries, the respect, care and right to make our own decisions about our health and our bodies is fundamental, not only for individuals, but to the life and livelihood of the world.