Immigrant Advocacy Project – Continues June 25 at 11:15 in the Library, the Peace, Justice and Inclusion Committee are delighted to welcome community partners who are directly serving our immigrant neighbors. Tanishka Cruz, an attorney with the Immigrant Advocacy Program of the Charlottesville Legal Aid and Justice Center, will be our guest after worship today. She will speak in the Library about the legal challenges facing our immigrant neighbors, and what we can do to support them and the work of the Legal Aid and Justice Center, including Know Your Rights and Power of Attorney workshops, and the Refugee Kids in Court program.
A few weeks ago during my sermon on Pentecost Sunday, I made the following comment:
“I fervently believe it is time for the Church again to make some noise. Like the early church at its birth, like those four freshmen in 1960 in Greensboro, NC who sat down at that all-white lunch counter, like those times in the past when Westminster Presbyterian Church has made noise, it is time again for God’s people to cry out against injustice, privilege and exclusion.
Last Sunday evening, the Session of Westminster Presbyterian Church decided to make some noise. In light of the current fear and anxiety present within our immigrant communities along with WPC’s history of protecting and supporting families who face prejudice and hatred, the Session approved the following Statement of Conviction:
Statement of Conviction
We find ourselves at a point in the life of our nation in which a climate of fear, racism, and xenophobia has resulted in official policies and practices that criminalize, detain, and deport undocumented people at new levels, tearing families and communities apart. As people of faith and people of conscience, we challenge actions that undermine due process, allow harassment, racial profiling, and discrimination to go unchecked and that precipitate the targeting and deportation of our immigrant neighbors, many of whom have longstanding roots in the community and American-born children. We affirm the dignity and full humanity of all of our neighbors, regardless of race, national origin, immigration status, gender, orientation, ability or faith tradition. We dedicate ourselves to welcoming, supporting, and protecting those targeted by hate and prejudice. We offer our church as a place of welcome and support, and we will work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to safeguard the dignity and human rights of all our neighbors in this community – The Session of Westminster Presbyterian Church of Charlottesville, Virginia, June 11, 2017.
With the adoption of this statement, the Session now encourages WPC members and friends to reflect on what this means. What actions might we take as a congregation to safeguard the dignity of our neighbors in Charlottesville? How can we support people held in detention centers or targeted by hatred? How can we care for families separated by deportation? Take a moment to reflect on a comment made by Charlottesville’s ex-Chief of Police: “I can’t imagine what it would be like leaving the house each morning not knowing if I would come home that night to see my kid. . . .”
Over the next two Sundays (i.e. June 18th and 25th) The Peace, Justice, and Inclusion Committee will be hosting speakers following worship who can answer our questions and concerns. If you cannot attend one of these classes, please take time to learn more about this issue and pray for God’s guidance.
The Immigrant Advocacy and Resource Coalition of Charlottesville/Albemarle (IARCCA) is a growing network of organizations and individuals working to protect immigrants in our community. The participants in this network are particularly committed to those under threat of discrimination, detention, and deportation.
The primary purposes of IARCCA are to educate and engage the public; strengthen local policy supports for immigrants; expand the capacity of area service providers through the recruitment of increasing numbers of volunteers. The organizers of this coalition seek to be accountable to those who work directly with impacted families and communities, such as Sin Barreras and Creciendo Juntos.
The IARCCA holds an information/working group meeting on the fourth Wednesday of each month at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Volunteer sign-up and orientation takes place at 6:30 p.m., followed by special presentations on topics of local and national importance, and breakout sessions with the following working groups:
- Sanctuary congregations – those congregations willing to publicly offer sanctuary, and a network of congregations supporting them.
- Education/Policy Advocacy/Communications – informing IARCCA members and the public of immigration issues; developing and advocating for protective policies; managing public relations and communications
- Detention Visitation and Accompaniment to ICE check-ins – coordinating trained volunteers to visit detainees at the Farmville Detention Center; accompanying, supporting, and offering witness for those in ICE proceedings.
- Rapid Response – supporting Sin Barreras in developing and managing a telephone hotline, triage system, and response teams in the case of ICE arrests
- Transportation – recruiting and training drivers to provide transportation to impacted individuals and families.
Additional working groups, among them fundraising and hospitality (providing material support to families whose breadwinner has been detained), as well as supporting the legal services of Sin Barreras, UVA Law Clinic and pro bono services, and Legal Aid and Justice Center, are in development.
WPC members are warmly invited to attend these meetings on the fourth Wednesday and to consider which of the working groups with which to become involved.
For further information, contact Gene Locke.
There are many ways to support our undocumented brothers and sisters and work for justice here in Charlottesville!
Join a “Circles of Protection” Team being formed by the Charlottesville-Albemarle Immigrant Resource and Advocacy Network and the Central Virginia Sanctuary Network:
- Rapid Response Hotline/Sin Barreras contact line -response to Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in real time; communicate accurate information, provide assistance to the family and make referrals as appropriate, record/video so that the event is documented
- Hospitality -provide food and other items to families that have lost their breadwinner
- Transportation -getting and/or accompanying people to work, medical services, school, ICE hearings, to their consulate, to visit family held at the Farmville Detention Center, and to safe places
- Financial support -for food, rent, and contributions toward bonds and legal fees for families torn apart by detention and deportation of the family breadwinner
- Legal assistance and advocacy:
- Sin Barreras and Legal Aid and Justice Center Know Your Rights and Power of Attorney workshops; accompany persons to ICE check-ins and court hearings
- Volunteer with the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, supporting legal teams that provide assessment and legal services to new detainees at Farmville Detention Center
- Support the Legal Aid and Justice Center Immigrant Advocacy Program and Refugee Kids in Court program
Visit people in detention at Farmville Detention Center, in concert with other congregations and Detention Watch
Respond to threatened deportations of specific persons by making phone calls, writing letters, and/or joining public witness on their behalf.
For further information, contact Gene Locke at
On Wednesday, May 10 members of many faith communities gathered together around the theme of hospitality; hospitality to the stranger, refugee, homeless, and other. The event was sponsored by Westminster, Saint Paul’s Ivy Episcopal Church, and Trinity Presbyterian Church, and included leaders from New Beginnings Christian Community, Beth Israel Synagogue, and the International Rescue Committee. A combined choir sang Bach Cantata No. 6, Bleib bei uns (Stay with us) in German with orchestra and soloists. There were other musical offerings as well as prayers and meditations offered by various leaders. The event raised $1700.00 to benefit the Haven and the International Rescue Committee. Thank you to those who sang, and played and attended this event.