What You Can Do to Help Your Immigrant Neighbors in this Time of Crisis

Please read this post from Kathy Doan, a Ruling Elder (Session member) and Executive Director of the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition. 

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Photo from https://faithinaction.org/federation/congregation-action-network/

As the Executive Director of the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, the only non-profit immigration legal service provider in the Washington area focused exclusively on assisting the over 2000 immigrant men, women and children detained on a daily basis in 12 detention centers in Maryland and Virginia, I am frequently asked what can be done to help immigrants under threat in our communities, as well as respond to the horrific treatment of immigrant children and families at the border.

While it is easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless, there is much that we can and should be doing to protect our immigrant neighbors and fight for justice for those seeking refuge in our country.  

  1. First, we can demand that our elected leaders pursue policies that are in accord with our obligations under international law to provide an opportunity for those fleeing violence in their homelands to apply for asylum and not be relegated to long and dangerous waits in Mexico. 
  2. Second, we can demand that our elected leaders ensure that policies put into place to protect unaccompanied immigrant children are enforced. 
  3. Third, we can demand that our elected leaders pursue policies that address the factors that are forcing men, women and children to abandon their home countries in order to survive. 
  4. Fourth, we can weave a strong safety net around the immigrants in our own communities who are threatened with detention and deportation by supporting local efforts to educate immigrants on their rights in an encounter with ICE, join a “Rapid Response” team to respond to an ICE raid, accompany an immigrant to their ICE check-in and support local families impacted by the detention of a loved one.

The good news is that there is already a robust local network of congregations, non-profit immigration service providers and advocacy organizations in the DMV that provide many opportunities to engage in the fight for more just and compassionate immigration laws and policies.  NYAPC is one of dozens of congregations that belong to the Congregation Action Network (formerly DMV Sanctuary Congregational Network).  CAN is divided into three clusters: DC, Northern Virginia and Montgomery/PG Counties.  The DC Cluster meets once a month at National City Christian Church.  A number of members of NYAPC church, including Fritz and myself, regularly attend these meetings.  The DC Cluster is divided into various committees focusing on both local and national efforts to defend immigrants and advocate for more just laws and policies.  We need more people to join us!  If you would like to know more about CAN, please email me at kathryndoan@yahoo.com

Another opportunity to help detained immigrants in our area is to volunteer with the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition.  We need volunteers to assist on jail visits, staff our detention hotline and assist with translation needs. For more information go to https://www.caircoalition.org/how-to-help/volunteering.

Finally, know the numbers to call in the event of the detention of a friend or family member: 

https://www.facebook.com/CAIRCoalitionDC/photos/a.187505218087245/1222891381215285/?type=3&theater

As you can see, there are many ways to put your “faith in action” on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters, so chose something and get going!

Kathy Doan and Omar Angel Perez -- 3

 

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General View of the Demonstration - 3

Njoro Sunday – An Opportunity to Give Thanks for our Kenya Partnership

Here is a post from Rev. Beth Braxton on the NYAPC partnership with the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Ministry in Njoro, Kenya.  This message as preached on June 16, 2019.

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“God has done so much for me, that I cannot tell it all.” This is a chorus we learned in Swahili and English last summer on our church’s mission trip to Njoro, Kenya.

It is the background music in the eight-minute video put together by one of the participants, Kelvin Njoroge, a member of the Goshen International Church in Henrico County, a congregation that partners with us to care for thirty-three Orphan and Vulnerable Children.  (Goshen International is an immigrant church of persons from Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya)

On Sunday June 16, I indeed felt that there was so much of God’s grace to witness to that we could not tell it all.  The video which we showed at the end of the worship service (and may be seen on our church website), is a quick history of the 2018 mission trip to Njoro: who participated, what we did, what it meant, and where we stayed. The Minute for Mission was given by two members of the Steering Committee, John Clark who participated in the mission trip and Brian Carlson who desires to go on the 2020 upcoming trip; Brian and John did a question and answer time to give our congregation an idea of what a mission trip to Njoro is like.  There are many stories of this inspiring journey; and it is a challenge to tell it all.

For “Njoro Sunday” we chose the theme of Hope; OR rather – the lectionary scripture for the day Romans 5:1-5 chose us! The Saturday program of Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) is just such a place of Hope for the students (most of whom are youth ages 12 through 20 – no longer young children!) This year especially, participants are getting not just spiritual nurture, help with homework, nourishing cooked lunch – but also are participating in a small mentoring group, led by one of the adult members of the Njoro OVC Committee – including the church pastor and the social worker.

One student who stood out for us last summer was Matthew Mokoa, a thirteen year old in Class 8 (we would say eighth grade).  Several of us visited his home , a two-room rental (no electricity or indoor plumbing) where his single mom, brother and sister all reside.  His mother does casual labor (doing laundry, gardening for $2.00 per day) when she can get work.  What was noticeable about the rooms was starkness and the soot on the walls from the kerosene lamp and the cooking fire.  The mother showed us that the lamp did not work properly so they had no lamp at night.  I asked Francis Muchemi, chair of the OVC ministry, about what it would cost to get a new properly-functioning lantern.  He suggested getting a solar lamp, which cost Ksh 2,500. or about $25.00.  We left that amount and a solar lamp was then purchased for Matthew’s home.

Matthew along with everyone else in Class level 8 throughout the country of Kenya has to take a National Exam near completion – and result of that one set of exams determines where (and whether) one will go to high school – a local day school, a national boarding school, just a technical school or even dropping out of school.  Matthew scored high enough to qualify for a National School!  Here is what he wrote and I share with you from my sermon –a sign of hope.  

“ the programme (OVC) provided a Solar Lamp, which made me happy and more encouraged. I thanked God because now I had opportunity to study to my limits. I used to wake up early to study. I was happy because the Lamp had no negative effect, like the other on, which I used to use. That one produced a lot of smoke which made me cough every time. When I got the Solar Lamp, I thanked the member. Then I had hope of passing my (national) exam.

I studied until the last minute. The day of Exam came. I did my best to achieve what I desired. I completed the exams( ended)  and I patiently waited for the results. When the results came I was happy because I persevered to score 379 marks out of 500. This result enabled me to have hope of joining a National school. I really thank God because if it were not for the Solar Lamp I don’t know what I would have scored in the exams.  After some weeks passed, I was glad because I got an invitation letter to a National school by the name Baricho Boys’ High School.  … I thanked God because the school had everything that I had desired for – when I was at home! The school had enough waters. I was happy of that, because the water was throughout. So I had no excuse of not washing my clothes. The school also has electricity throughout. Now I can read any time.  This school also has clean and healthful environment. Flowers and trees are planted all over the school (property) to ensure that there is enough aeration of air in the compound. There are CCTV (security cameras) ensuring security every time (all the time). The school also has improved equipment – e.g., computers, musical instruments and many other.

In reading materials, the school is rich in books and any other required material. So I have no reason why I should fail…. It has enough dormitories for every student has his own bed. The dorms are also well aerated (ventilated) and there are Inner bathrooms… The school is also the best in balanced diet. It provides different kinds of all types. I am pleased because some of the foods I have never seen them in my lifetime. I really thank the OVC programme for such a wonderful deed to me.

Hope is a solar lamp! 

Njoro Sunday is a gift and an opportunity to present to the congregation a connect with this engaging and inspiring ministry through testimony, photos, music, arts and craft, and a taste of mandazis and samosas from Kenya.  Thank you, church!

It is such a gift to be a part of NYAPC and connect with the justice issues of Washington, DC, through Radcliffe Room, Community Club, McClendon Center, 7 2 9. Scholars –in-Residence, and now the Day Service Center!  It is a gift as well to be able to connect relationally with persons in our Cuba Partnership and in a developing country such as Kenya, East Africa. The Presbyterian Church of East Africa membership of four million to five million is 10 percent of the country’s population! In Kenya, the Presbyterian Church is strong and growing.  Evidence for me – in the seven years I have been at the NYAPC and providing leadership to three mission trips to Njoro, the parish has expanded into three congregations! Their faith is contagious and encouraging and hopeful for all of us.  

The apostle Paul’s words are powerful: “Hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.”

Let me say it this way as I did in my sermon on Njoro Sunday — Because our transcendent creator God who put the planets in their courses, unique fingerprints on all 5 billion people on this earth, and the brilliant color in the butterfly wings and the immanent God who came to us in the human being Jesus who wept for Jerusalem and washed his friends feet and cared for the bent-over woman, spoke truth to power – this God, this transcendent immanent God, this magnificent embracing God of love has been poured into our hearts!! 

And Because of that powerful love, Hope will NOT disappoint us!  It is the fiber of our being that can help us make a better world and give us all the grace we need to enjoy it!! 

Living that love is life!

YAV Blogs her Experience at Poor People’s Campaign

This post is by guest-blogger, Kasey Kelly, who is the 2018-2019 Young Adult Volunteer at NYAPC. 

The banners on New York Avenue Presbyterian Church building say, “Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly, with your God.” These banners reflect the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (NYAPC) congregation.  In 1968, during the Poor People’s Campaign, NYAPC fed the protesters from the Resurrecting City, the area near the mall, and became an information center.

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“Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly, With your God” banners

On June 12, I attended the moral witness service before we marched for the Poor People’s Campaign. Rev. Dr. William Barber stated that Trump Administration did not follow the Lord’s way. I believe that Jesus would be there for the marginalized people who are living on the streets and financially assist with housing and food payments. I hope to see many people like Radcliffe Room guests have financial support from the government.

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Rev. William Barber (Credit: Tracy Blackmon)

I marched at the Poor People’s Campaign for Radcliffe Room guests. I care because I witnessed some of our guests of Radcliffe Room ministry struggling to pay for meals and housing, even with welfare programs such as vouchers to help with rent and SNAP (food stamps). A regular Radcliffe Room guest has a disability and is usually exhausted. She struggled to get a job, and the disability checks do not cover the person’s rent, utilities, and food including public transportations. She spent the checks for her medicine. She came to the Radcliffe Room so that she can take her medicine with the food. A mother works at the restaurant, and she used her checks into the rent and utilities. She used the clothes from our closet for her daughter to wear. I watched her enjoy with her friends. A guest, who is an immigrant, came here for the American Dream. He gained a community and comfort. By living here in the United States, he like other immigrants pays more money than citizens pay. I wish the government would create more programs that allow people like them to be supported.

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Nathan Martin in the middle (other two is unknown and credit to Alanna Sklover)

After the moral witness service, we marched from NYAPC to Lafayette Square Park. However, the park was closed to the march. We stayed and did not leave. Almost an hour later, the park opened us. We marched in.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

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Poor People’s Campaign entered Lafayette Square Park

 

 

My Story by Marie Meka

Ms. Marie Meka is an ordained Ruling Elder currently serving on the Session at NYAPC.  She is also an ordained Diaconal Minister (Deacon).  She shared her story with us in worship on Pentecost Sunday, June 9, 2019.  Here are her powerful words.

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Here, Marie Meka (Eagle microphone), along with Erica Morgan and Kasey Kelly are sharing the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit from Acts chapter 2.

——

 

Psalm 33:12 ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.’

This passage was my grandmother’s favorite bible quote to every happy event in her life. My name is Marie Noel Meka. I was born on Christmas day which is reflected in the name Noel. Daughter of believers, my grandfather was a catechist, my grandfather a deacon, my mother a choir singer and deaconess, my little sister and my little brother both church elders. 

Originally from South Cameroon, I was baptized as a child at the Cameroonian Presbyterian Church in the consistory and parish of Nkoumadjap by the Reverend Pastor Essame Etoutou Jean Desire who was also the moderator of the said parish. Since I was a child, I have been involved in children’s worship activities. We did sketches during religious holidays to celebrate Christmas, Easter and every Sunday we danced to the rhythm of drums and tambourines; as it is written, The Lord God is worthy of praise. 

I grew up with a Christian education, which is very important to my family. This education made me an exceptional child. When I had to leave home to go to high school about 7 miles from my family home, my Christian values set me apart from other girls through love and respect for my neighbor, faith, forgiveness, and grace. At the age of 10, I received my first communion. I also sang in various choirs, Hope of Nkoumadjap, a New Generation of Zoetele Town Center, the messiah singers of Corneillet Yaoundé-Cameroon, Lyon and Paris in France, Geneva in Switzerland.

From high school, I was taken under the wing of my uncle, the reverend pastor Simon Pierre Ngomo whom I followed in the parishes and chapels of which he was the moderator. I participated in the construction of several of them, such as Corneillet Yaoundé and Paris. I was involved within the Youth Protestant and Evangelical Action and later as a deaconess. We travelled through Europe during his pastoral tours to announce the good news of Christ as written in the Acts of the Apostles.

I lived in Europe for 6 years from 2000 to 2006 and then started going back and forth between Paris and Washington, D.C. Finally, in 2008 I decided to settle definitively in the United States up to this day. As soon as I arrived here, a new life began for me but the always true in my heart were my Christian values. I joined the American Presbyterian Church first as a Diaconal Minister and today I am proud and happy to be a church elder. I am happy to be a full member of this very welcoming family NYAPC. 

I am certain of one thing, as different as our lives are, our journeys, our origins, all of us, men and women, young and old, tall and short, white and black, we are all children of the same father, the Almighty God. We all have the same goal and purpose here in this house, which is to raise the name of the Lord and have a special place in the kingdom of heaven. This is my spiritual heritage that I wanted to share with you on this day. May God bless you.

PCUSA Invitation to PCUSA Members to Sign on to Petition against EO Barring Refugees and Against Muslims. Please sign if you haven’t yet

Dear fellow Presbyterian Church USA members, ruling elders and teaching elders,

In the midst of so much national turmoil, we have been heartened this week that we have seen so many of you fighting for the cause of justice in our churches on behalf of immigrants and refugees around world.   We write to you today as members of the PCUSA with a request for you to sign onto a petition from members of our denomination to stand up in one voice against the Executive Order suspending refugee resettlement.

It is our conviction that Jesus stood with the most vulnerable in his midst on account of his belief that God is alive in the world seeking to transform the situation. In our present circumstance as Christians it our calling and duty to stand up with the immigrant and the refugee.  We believe the executive action issued this week titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” is unconscionable and goes against all that we stand for as Christians and as citizens of the United States of America.

Kathy Doan, a ruling elder at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, and Executive Director of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, wrote the linked petition to our fellow Presbyterians in Congress to oppose the Executive order suspending refugee resettlement program and discriminating against Muslims.  On Sunday morning January 29 many members of The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church signed onto the petition.  It is being mailed on January 31.

However loud our members’ voices may be, as proud members, ruling elders, and teaching elders of the PCUSA, we believe we are the most effective when we speak together united as one body of Christ. We believe that it would be most impactful if members of the PCUSA around the country would also sign on to the petition.

Would you sign onto this petition?  Would you share it with your friends and networks who are part of the PCUSA?

https://docs.google.com/a/nyapc.org/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdAobkDEbqBClQ3GoMbBrj3VtqKvvxNG6lHYfPV6c4pv7g7Wg/viewform?c=0&w=1.

After you sign onto the petition, will you also contact your Congressional representative?  To be connected to your representative in Congress or the Senate, call this number (202) 224-3121.  You will need to call the line three times to be connected to your representative and two Senators.

Many thanks and blessings,

Roger J. Gench, Senior Pastor

Alice Tewell, Associate Pastor

Kathy Doan, Ruling Elder

Miriam Dewhurst, Clerk of Session

Ann Rose Davie, Parish Associate

Frances Taylor Gench, Parish Associate

Emily Rhodes Hunter, Parish Associate

Linda LeSourd Lader, Parish Associate

Matthew Schlageter, Parish Associate

Taylor Allison, NYAPC Member

NYAPC Joins Sanctuary Movement

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Photo taken in front of the church on 1.25.17

On January 10, the Session, upon the recommendation of the Church’s recently formed “Sanctuary Taskforce” agreed to join hundreds of other churches, many of them Presbyterian, in signing the following pledge:

As people of faith and people of conscience, we pledge to resist the newly elected administration’s policy proposals to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities. We will open up our congregations and communities as sanctuary spaces for those targeted by hate, and work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to ensure the dignity and human rights of all people.

See the pledge here.

This pledge affirms NYAPC’s place as a part of the larger “Sanctuary” movement, which the task force believes is consistent with the church’s mission to be an inclusive, justice-seeking presence in Washington, DC and the world.  However, the signing of the pledge does not commit the church to physically housing individuals or families.  The Taskforce recommended deferring any decision on a public grant of sanctuary to a particular individual/family until such an individual/family has been identified.

The Session also charged the Sanctuary Taskforce with developing and implementing specific steps through which NYAPC can fulfill its pledge to be a “Sanctuary congregation.”  Initial ideas from the Taskforce include:

-Scheduling and publicizing an “immigration services day” on a weekend at the church to connect families in need to legal, social work, and other relevant service providers

-Identifying individual members interested in “Sanctuary”-related mission work, which could include individual volunteer work (e.g., pro bono legal, social work, or other services) or participation in larger “Sanctuary” efforts/activism led by the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness, Washington Interfaith Network, or other organizations

-Informing immigration service providers of the church’s willingness to consider providing “sanctuary” to an individual or family, and developing a recommendation for way(s) in which the church might do so (e.g., physically housing a family vs. providing a family with resources or identifying external housing).

To learn more about the Sanctuary Movement and how you can help to support the efforts of the Sanctuary Taskforce, stop by our table at the Mission Fair on Sunday or email kathryndoan@yahoo.com

-Kathy

(Ruling Elder on Session)

Thank You Notes from Our Weekend Guests (Jan 20-22)

Here are a few thank you that our guests who came for the Inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington left behind:

We cried with joy when you said we could stay.

-Rev. Jamie Haskins, Director of the Center for Faith & Service, Chaplain, Instructor of Religious Studies at Westminster College, Fulton, MO

BIG SHOUT OUT to New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in D.C. They opened their doors to tired, cold, hungry marchers with full bladders. Their message was love, love, love and inclusiveness. No proselytizing or choosing sides, just service and Christianity as it was meant to be. They are an “inclusive, justice-seeking church.” This marcher thanks you from the bottom of her heart and honors your commitment to service!

We received coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies, donations only. They also opened their door to overnight guests at no cost. Here is their message on the website:

We invite you to march-day hospitality: Members of the church will stay at the church to serve as hosts for those seeking to warm up, use the bathrooms, charge a cell phone (limited plugs), or join in conversation. We will have hot beverages and snacks available for our daytime and overnight guests. Our sanctuary will be open for prayer and meditation. All guests from any background or belief are most welcome inside the building! #newyorkavenuepresbyterian

-Lynelle Morgenthaler

Thank you so very much!  You were all awesome and welcoming, upbeat and amazing.  Thank you for providing food and sanctuary for all of here for the march!

-Janet from Garland, TX

Just wanted to say “Thank you” for your welcoming hospitality during the Women’s March on January 21st, 2017.  My friends and I were tired and thirsty, and trying to find our way around the city before heading  home after the march.  Seeing your doors open, and smiling faces welcoming us to come inside, rest, use the facilities, and even get a snack was such a nice surprise for us.  Your thoughtful kindness and generosity  was inspiring, and just added to the whole wonderful experience that day!

– Regina Keller

I attended the awesome March in DC on Saturday.  As we waited in the dusk for our bus pickup, out of nowhere appeared an angel from your church (can’t remember her name, sorry, but she knows who she is) with a pitcher of iced tea, cups , and a plate of cookies! As much as that was appreciated (and believe me it was greatly appreciated), the further offer of a clean restroom blew me away. I’m from NYC, and can think of only a handful of groups that would have done the same. Words cannot express the full scope of my gratitude, and I’m sure I speak for all who benefited from your incredible generosity when I offer my thanks. Please do me the favor of sharing this with all those involved.

-Sincerely,  Brigid Scott

Thank you to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church for opening its doors to marchers during the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017!  Your offer of refreshments, and a sanctuary for prayer or reflection was welcome at this difficult time in our nation’s history. Thank you very much! 

Susan Robinson
Ithaca, NY