If you were present last Sunday in either of the worship services at CCC, you heard concerns raised and prayers prayed for the 1700+ migrant children being held in the private, for-profit Homestead Child Detention Facility, separated from their families. Three congresswomen—Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala were recently denied entry to the facility as reported in the Miami Herald. Although I pledged to write letters to those congresswomen, expressing concern about the children in that facility and support for their efforts, and encouraged our members to do so also, some of us felt that more was needed. The facility is not overseen by a state child welfare agency because it is on federal property, and some children have been kept for up to 9 months, despite the Flores Agreement, which states no child may be kept for more than 20 days.
Member John Bowling took the initiative to travel to the facility this week and posted on Facebook pictures he took, along with a moving reflection on his experience there.
As a result of these events, some of us discussed what we might do as a church since the facility is literally in our backyard, being only about a 30 minute drive from CCC. The decision was made that I, and those who wish to join me, will travel to the facility on Good Friday as an act of worship on that holy day protesting the lack of transparency there and hoping to raise awareness around the care of the children there. We plan to leave from the church at 11 a.m. and begin demonstrating at noon. There will be an opportunity after worship this Sunday to get together for a little planning and to make signs in Kelsey Hall. Materials will be provided.
I have advised other area UCC churches, those of other denominations, and other faiths of our plans and invited them to join us. Senior Pastor Laurie Hafner from Coral Gables Congregational has pledged to join us with others from that church at 2 p.m. after their Good Friday worship service.
As we look toward Palm Sunday in a couple days, let us remember Jesus entering Jerusalem, humble and riding on a donkey, making a statement with that act about the power of loving servanthood. As followers of Jesus, let us also act, standing in solidarity with and for those vulnerable children who have no power themselves.
In Christ love.
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ