Welcoming the Stranger Task Force

Welcoming the Stranger Task Force

by Lynn Zender, Member, Episcopal Church of St. Martin, Davis

On August 20, 2015, Bishop Barry Beisner met with the newly formed Welcoming the Stranger Task Force of The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.

The task force grew out of a resolution passed at the 2014 Diocesan Convention. Resolution R6-14: Welcoming the Stranger was a response to the humanitarian crisis at the southern border of the United States, involving children and women fleeing from pervasive violence in the countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The resolution called for the following actions: (1) advocating to government officials on behalf of these refugees; (2) encouraging donations to the national Episcopal Migration Ministries for its work on this crisis; (3) supporting the work of Episcopal dioceses and churches working with the refugees at the border and (4) providing information about the crisis on the diocesan website. The resolution was based on a July 10, 2014 statement of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jeffers Schori about this humanitarian crisis. Click here to read the full statement.

At this point, while the flow of children and women from Central American has abated somewhat, the plight of those who are here has not. Many of them have been held in detention facilities which a federal judge recently decried as being in "deplorable condition." Judge Gee of the Central District of California has ordered the immediate release of these families. Moreover, because there is no right to a lawyer in an immigration proceeding, the vast majority of refugee children have faced the impossible task of representing themselves before immigration judges.

It is in this context that the Welcoming the Stranger Task Force plans to find tangible and practical ways to help address the needs of these refugees. In particular, the task force is looking to work with other organizations with similar goals which are already providing services and aid.

It would be very helpful if all congregations knew about the Welcoming the Stranger Task Force. We hope to involve as many people in The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California as possible in this effort. Any interested parishioner can contact Lynn Zender at lynnzender@sbcglobal.net for more information about the task force and the date of its next meeting.


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