This past Thursday, Christ Congregational Church, hosted a UCC youth group, their pastors, and chaperones from Crystal Lake, IL, after they witnessed at the Homestead child detention facility. This is the third time this summer that we’ve provided a place in Kelsey Hall for the youth from three UCC churches and one Presbyterian church to come together to reflect and process their Homestead experience.
We were able to offer hospitality to about 90 visitors in all by sharing frozen treats, drinks, and fresh fruit you donated. They were very appreciative and the experience was a very positive one on both sides. Thanks to Daniel Best, Wally and Judy Carlson, Fay Gordon, Joan Chandler, Karen Kett, and Lorrie LeGrand, for being part of this opportunity to interact meaningfully with youth and adults from other churches!
An unexpected gift for me (and other CCC members present said they felt the same) was a strong feeling of HOPE. In the reflection time that I led, each of our visitors in all three sessions was first asked to give her/his name and age. Then these young men and women, who were 14 to 20 years old, shared their primary takeaway from their time outside the Homestead facility. Amazingly, no two were exactly alike! These youth were all deeply touched by their experiences of seeing real kids just their age behind the fences who sometimes were able to acknowledge their presence and connect with a wave or heart hand sign. They realized that each of these immigrant children has a story, just as they all have a story. They spoke of the need for compassion and justice and the importance of standing up for those who have no voices. I’m sure they made Jesus proud!
It was so hopeful to hear that they “got it”—as far as how Christians are called to care and to respond to injustice. It gives me hope for the UCC and for our world.
And so we were blessed, and can look forward to the future with a little more hope. I wish each of you could have been there! Thank you for being so open to offering hospitality in a new experience from which we got more than we gave!
In Christ’s Love!
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ