In The Struggle to Protect Immigrants, Neighboring Church Lightens the Load

by | Jan 17, 2018

On Sunday, January 28, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church/Iglesia Episcopal San Mateo, in Hyattsville, MD, will celebrate two services of worship with members of the Mennonite Church of Hyattsville (MCH) in order to affirm their growing partnership in service to the vulnerable community of immigrants of San Mateo and the wider region. Rev. Cindy Lapp, the Mennonite pastor, will preach, and other members of the guest church will participate in various ways in the two liturgies.

 Ever since the current Administration started to put into operation its plans to take away protective measures for Latino and other immigrant groups, San Mateo and the MCH have found themselves side-by-side in vigils, marches, and meetings inspired by the Sanctuary Congregations (DMV) movement. Their friendship developed as each church worked together on matters important to Prince Georges’ County, and grew stronger through “Know Your Rights” training events held in both churches.

 “Since then, the Mennonites have lightened our load in really tangible ways”, says Rev. Ana Langerak, Priest Associate at St. Matthew’s/San Mateo. “When DACA recipients, the so-called “Dreamers”, were ordered to renew their applications by October 5 of last year, they organized a drive to help six of our members who didn’t have the needed money for the renewal. We received nearly $3,000 from them.” A number of Mennonite Church members also have expertise in immigration law and in lobbying the US congress.  “We arranged for meetings in which they shared information with our people, but what really impressed us was that they accompanied Fr. Vidal Rivas and me, together with a representative group of our TPS and DACA holders, to speak with the staff of our US Senators for Maryland, Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen”, she added.

 With the Ecumenical Week of Prayer for Christian Unity being celebrated in January, St. Mattew’s/San Mateo took the opportunity to invite these Hyattsville neighbors, to worship together, and to commit to continuing their relationship.