Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On the Willows There

by Joan Maruskin, Church World Service

By the waters of the Rio Grande
By the waters of the Rio Grande,
There we sat down and there
  We wept
  When we remembered Zion.

On the willows there
We hung up our guitars

For there the Border Patrol
Asked us for songs

And the vigilantes asked for laughter
Saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How could we sing the Lord’s song
In a foreign land

By the waters we weep and we remember
  We remember Mexico and El Salvador
  We remember Burma and Tibet
  We remember Colombia and Chile
  We remember Cuba and Haiti
  We remember Darfur, the Congo, and Romania

By the waters we remember

On the willows we hung up our guitars
  We hung up our hopes
  We hung up our homes, our land, our dreams
  We hung up our poverty, our hunger, and our thirst
  We hung up our friends, our traditions and our culture
  We hung up our family ties, our food, and our language

How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

We sing only the song of the homeless, the unemployed
  The laments of hunger and thirst, of death and destruction
  The songs of the songless, the hungry, the thirsty
  The songs of the dying.

How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

Letter from the UCC Southwest Conference in response to the new immigration law in Arizona

An Open Letter to President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary Janet Napolitano and Governor Jan Brewer,
On April 24, 2010, the Southwest Conference of the UCC gathered at our Annual Meeting in Sedona, AZ.   Our meeting was disrupted with the announcement that Gov. Jan Brewer had signed SB1070.  We immediately went into a time of prayer for the soul of Arizona and all people who reside here.  

As people of faith we affirm and live by the biblical imperative, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 34The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”( Leviticus 19:33-34)
We are profoundly disturbed by the passage of the harshest anti-immigrant legislation in the country by the Arizona Legislature.  It is legislation such as this that codifies racial profiling and creates an atmosphere of suspicion, hatred, and scapegoating of immigrants and U.S citizens.
We celebrate the diversity of our nation and the contribution of immigrants and call for the end of the criminalization of individuals and the destabilization of our communities. 

We call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will provide a path for legalization for people who are contributing to our society, an adequate system for future legal economic immigration and family reunification, and policies that prevent deaths in the desert.  We find it morally reprehensible that 5,500 men, women and children have lost their lives in the last 16 years trying to provide a life of dignity for their families. Policies such as SB 1070 and 287 (G) diminish the ability of local law enforcement to keep our communities safe. 

We are dedicated to the following actions to demonstrate our solidarity and commitment to our immigrant brothers and sisters who are created equally in the image of God regardless of race or nationality. We are committed to:

·        Encouraging members to pledge non- compliance with the unjust and racist law SB 1070
·        Cancel  plans to hold 2011 annual meeting in Arizona
·        Relocate our next annual meeting to another southwestern state
·        Encourage our business and professional members to influence board decisions
·        Direct action of prayer, study, protests, and fasting
·        Mobilize our congregations to advocate for the Dream Act, a just and fair Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the abolishment of SB 1070 and 287 (G)

As people of faith and conscience rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ, we hold to our UCC Statement of Affirmation of faith, in declaring, “You call us into your church…to be your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil.”

In Solidarity and Service,