Misa del Inmigrante

Misa del Inmigrante

Desde abril de 2022, miles de migrantes han llegado a Washington, D.C. en autobuses enviados desde Texas y Arizona. En mayo, la Parroquia de St. Thomas en Dupont Circle se unió a las muchas iglesias, organizaciones sin fines de lucro y grupos comunitarios que han proporcionado una cálida bienvenida y alimentos muy necesarios, ropa y artículos de primera necesidad. Esta ayuda ha sido y sigue siendo- fundamental, ya que las personas llegan después de 30 horas de viaje en autobús, tras una ardua travesía hasta los Estados Unidos. Fue en la acogida semanal de estos migrantes cuando empezamos a oír hablar de otras necesidades, y del deseo de orar juntos. Muchas de las personas a las que acogemos no han tenido la oportunidad de celebrar un servicio de adoración en una iglesia en muchas semanas,

Así que St. Thomas comenzó una Misa del Inmigrante en español en los días que damos la bienvenida. Esta adoración es una oportunidad para dar gracias por una llegada segura, orar por la familia y los amigos que se han quedado atrás, y recordar a los heridos o muertos del viaje a los Estados Unidos. Es un momento para recordar el amor de Cristo a través del viaje, y orar por una bendición para el nuevo camino en los Estados Unidos.

Como la mayoría de los miembros de St. Thomas no hablan español, invitamos a las congregaciones latinas de la diócesis a participar. ¡Qué alegría y colaboración nos ha traído a todos!

Todas las congregaciones latinas de la Diócesis Episcopal de Washington están participando en esta Misa del Inmigrante, y también han compartido la cálida bienvenida a través de la distribución de alimentos, suministros, ropa, y la bienvenida radical. Todos son bienvenidos a unirse a la Iglesia St. Thomas en este ministerio de bienvenida, y considerar cómo pueden proporcionar una bienvenida en su propio contexto ministerial. Comuníquese con la Rvda. Carol Coonrad para obtener más información.

Rvda. Lisa Saunders Ahuja, Rectora, Iglesia Episcopal St. Thomas, Dupont Circle

Misa del Inmigrante (Immigrants’ Mass)

Misa del Inmigrante (Immigrants’ Mass)

Since April of 2022, thousands of migrants have arrived in Washington, D.C. on buses sent from Texas and Arizona. In May, St. Thomas’ Parish in Dupont Circle joined the many churches, non-profits, and community groups who have provided a warm welcome and much needed food, clothing, and basic necessities. This help has been–and continues to be–critical, as people are arriving after 30 hours on a bus, which comes after an arduous journey to the United States. It was in the weekly welcome of these migrants that we started to hear of other necessities, and a desire to pray together. Many of the people we welcome have not had a chance to worship in a church in many weeks, if not months.

So St. Thomas’ started a Spanish language Misa del Inmigrante on the days we provide welcome. This worship is an opportunity to give thanks for a safe arrival, pray for family and friends left behind, and remember those injured or dead from the journey to the United States. It is a time to remember the love of Christ through the journey, and pray for a blessing for the new journey in the United States.

As most members of St. Thomas’ do not speak Spanish, we invited the Latino congregations in the diocese to participate. What joy and partnership this has brought to us all!

All of the Latino congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Wasihngton are participating in this Misa del Inmigrante, and have also shared in the warm welcome through distribution of food, supplies, clothing, and radical welcome. All are welcome to join St. Thomas’ Parish in this ministry of welcome, and consider how they may provide a welcome in their own ministry context. Reach out to the Rev. Carol Coonrad for more information.

The Rev. Lisa Saunders Ahuja, Rector, St. Thomas’ Parish, Dupont Circle

Recognizing the Holy Spirit at Noonday Prayer

Recognizing the Holy Spirit at Noonday Prayer

In April, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas announced that his administration would charter buses to “bring migrants released by federal agents north to Washington….[to] be dropped at the doorstep of federal lawmakers.” In response, several faith communities in DC have stepped up to serve as spaces of respite following the long bus rides, working alongside not-for-profits that provide medical care, food, housing, transportation, and bus and plane tickets to the migrants next location. Over the month of June, the Church of the Epiphany, with the help of some of our sister Episcopal congregations, has been host to over 250 migrants.

Our guests arrive via private transport from Union Station to the church in need of immediate access to a bathroom and WiFi. The first arrivals each day tend to appear between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. They are infants, children, elderly, men, women–all weary and calmly preparing for the next leg of their journey. Some speak Spanish, but other languages we hear are Portuguese, French, even English. We don’t always know how many guests we will host each time, so flexibility has been a necessity.

In the beginning, we provided what was asked for: toys for the kids, bathrooms, food to eat, directions to the store. It was an easy way to be of service, a form of outreach our parish has undertaken in response to calls for help any number of times over the years.

It has long been the custom of Epiphany to host weekday services. One day recently, I was preparing to pray with some regular visitors who entered the church with the expectation of a noonday service, but the sanctuary was filled with our migrant neighbors. It seemed natural to invite all present to pray together, but knowing that many of our guests were tired, and in the process of transitioning to the next stop, I did not think many would respond to the invitation.

I left the sanctuary to grab the readings for the day and my Spanish language Book of Common Prayer. Upon returning to the sanctuary, I was surprised to find that 50 migrants had gathered, silenced the children, and were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to pray.

Seeing how many were gathered I hesitated, wondering if my limited Spanish language knowledge would be adequate to meet the need, yet a sense of purpose and certainty settled upon me. With the help of a Spanish-speaking volunteer from Washington National Cathedral we prayed together, offered a homily, and praised God.

As a space of respite throughout the week, Epiphany provides an opportunity to walk the labyrinth, participate in worship, and hear music. Yet, it hadn’t occurred to us that one thing that would be welcomed by the travelers is corporate worship.

Despite the language barrier, and the fatigue from traveling on a bus for 25-33 hours, we had a spirited and beautiful worship experience. People were so thankful to be able to pray the Lord’s Prayer together. All the voices together, Spanish, English, rang throughout the sanctuary. Everyone walked away filled with the spirit, you could see all moving with a bit more joy in their step.

We did nothing fancy or extraordinary AND the Holy Spirit made her presence known to us. That day, we started as strangers and departed as siblings under God.

The Rev. Glenna Huber
Rector, Church of the Epiphany, DC

Refugee Response Team: New Name, Same Welcoming Mission

Refugee Response Team: New Name, Same Welcoming Mission

“…I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.”
Matthew 25:35

Parishes and individuals throughout the Diocese have a long history of stepping up to welcome the stranger as displaced people from around the world arrive in this area. Beginning last August, after the President’s announcement of the end of the war in Afghanistan, the influx of refugees has reached record numbers. In response to this increased urgent need for assistance, what had been an informal sharing of knowledge and resources among those congregations with established refugee ministries served as the basis for the creation of the Afghan Refugee Response Team (ARRT) with Bishop Mariann then urging parishes and individuals to participate in responding to this humanitarian crisis.

As co-chairs of ARRT, the Rev. Anne Derse, deacon at St. John’s, Norwood and Hazel Monae, then the diocesan Missioner for Equity and Justice, provided the opportunity for parishes to gather regularly on Zoom, learn from those who had been supporting refugees for years, hear about the current situation and need, build partnerships, and take action to begin graciously ‘Welcoming the Stranger’.

Our Diocesan Strategic Plan calls us to “partner in ministries of equity and justice for greater impact in our communities” and “strengthen our collective witness…and shared resources to meet the needs of our regions.” Over the last ten months, parishes have done exactly that, cultivating collaboration among parishes in the Diocese, across faith communities, and with other aid organizations in the work to support arriving refugees. Based on the needs in the DMV, parishes have:

  • sponsored newly arriving families,
  • furnished and set up apartments,
  • provided housing,
  • fed those in hotels,
  • gathered needed supplies such as coats, gift cards, socks, toys, and
  • advocated for immigration reform.

Over thirty parishes and countless individuals have been generously involved with the efforts.

The capabilities developed and information gathered through the initial efforts of the ARRT apply to all arriving refugees and this spring, the ARRT community entered the next phase of work, renaming itself to the Refugee Response Team (RRT) to better reflect the wider scope of its mission.

The RRT community will continue to serve as a resource for parishes called to this ministry, so they have a place to start. To carry on the work, the RRT will remain a place for accessing and sharing information, provide ongoing support for parishes involved in the ministry, and carry out the vision of ‘Welcoming the Stranger’.

If you or the people of your parish feel called to this ministry, please don’t hesitate to email me.

Nancy Stockbridge
Interim Chair, Refugee Response Team

Three Parish Partnership Settles Afghan Refugee Family

Three Parish Partnership Settles Afghan Refugee Family

Volunteers help furnish an apartment for an Afghan refugee family

Some of the volunteers from All Souls, DC, St. John’s, Lafayette Square and St. Mary’s, Arlington, helping to furnish an apartment for an Afghan refugee family

After a month of preparation and hard work, a cross-city and cross diocese partnership welcomed an Afghan refugee family on February 16th. All Souls and St. John’s Lafayette Square from the Diocese of Washington and St. Mary’s in Arlington from the Diocese of Virginia joined together to settle an Afghan father and mother and their three small children into a three-bedroom apartment the churches have rented and furnished for the family.

While the parishes all have past experience supporting refugees, leadership in each parish liked the idea of a partnership approach, given the amount of ongoing support the family will require–from language, education, and self-development resources to health and human services, to legal, financial, and other assistance–to be successful.

Embry Howell, who leads the work at All Souls and sought out partners, said “All Souls had successfully partnered with two DC parishes in 2016 to support an Afghan family, so we wanted to replicate that success. We were delighted to find such amazing and willing partners in St. John’s and St. Mary’s.”

Dana Martin, Senior Warden at St. Mary’s agreed, saying, “We liked the idea of adding this to the other ministries in our parish. It’s remarkable how well the partnership is working. Back in my corporate days I’d call it synergy. Now I think it’s better to call it the Holy Spirit.”

Gay and Bob Pasley, longtime stalwarts at St. John’s whose college friendship with Embry led to the parishes’ connection agreed. “We’re so happy to share all we’ve learned over the years. Each parish brings a lot to the table.” Jessica Sanchez of the same parish added, “St. John’s had a whole storage locker stuffed with items we were able to use to furnish the apartment.”

Patty Hammond of St. Mary’s shared that it’s been fun to see how every member of the “Tri Parish Refugee Support Circle” as it’s called, has brought their own skills to the table, hers being her former life as a teacher and her connection to Episcopal Migration Ministries.

Interim Rector at All Souls Parish, the Rev. Dr. Julianne Buenting, stated her support for the project this way: “I’m just as thrilled about how this encourages our own spiritual transformation at All Souls as I am about our following the biblical imperative to welcome the stranger. The Holy Family was once a refugee family. We need to remember that.”