What a joy it was to stand with eighteen members and friends of Christ Congregational Church, as well as other pastors, church members, and activists, on Good Friday as we demonstrated across the street from the Homestead “Temporary Influx Facility” for migrant children. This facility is only a thirty minute drive from our church. We stood there to protest the lack of transparency around the care of unaccompanied minor children detained there, the denial of entry in the last few weeks of three of our congresswomen who arrived to tour the facility, and to bear witness to Jesus’ love. Over 1,700 children ages 12-17 are currently housed there, with more arriving all the time.
The members of our group ranged in age from a 5th grader to an 80+ Senior. We carried signs, climbed step ladders so we could see over the walls and view children out for exercise playing soccer, and we called messages of encouragement to them. We were rewarded by some with waves, acknowledging that they saw and heard us, and some boys made hearts with their hands.
Graham Bryant stood on a stepladder and played lovely music on his recorder, reminding me of Yo-Yo Ma recently playing the cello at the U.S./Mexican border! Isabella Le Grand used her cheerleading voice and Spanish fluency to call across the fence to the children, while both she and sixth-grader Anasofia Godley-Jaurez held up the colorful signs they’d made. “Christ Congregational Cares!” read one of the signs, and, indeed, we witnessed that we do.
In Acts 5:27-32, we have the story of what Peter and the Apostles did following Jesus’ resurrection. They went out into the world to be witnesses to the good news of Jesus Christ. “We are witnesses” they said. And so are we called to be, with our lips and with our lives, with our signs, with our letters, with whatever we have. We are all witnesses to something with what we say and what we do. All that Christians as individuals and as a community say and do form our witness to what and whom we “put first”.
Near the end of our time there, one of our group released six red helium heart balloons into the air as symbols of our love for the children. The thought was that the balloons would be visible above the fence, a witness also that walls can’t stop love.
Proud to stand and witness with CCC.
In Christ love.
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ