An invitation from Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe:
Responding to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in detention camps on the US border, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York sent the following invitation to clergy and parish leaders of the diocese on July 9, 2019:
Dear parish leaders,
Next week, I will begin a pilgrimage, with several youth from our diocese, to our Companion Diocese of El Salvador. As our youth immerse themselves in new relationships and the stories of our fellow Christians in El Salvador, including stories of violence, poverty, and faithful responses, I will be meeting with Bishop David Alvarado, diocesan clergy, and lay leaders. My express purpose in going is to listen deeply to the reality of life in El Salvador and Central America, to strengthen our relationships as diocesan partners, and to expand my understanding of the current humanitarian crisis unfolding at the border of the United States and Mexico. When I return I will share with you, and the wider community here in Central New York, some of what I have learned.
In this election season and time of deep political division in our country, it can be challenging to listen with open ears and hearts. It is important to recognize that safe, secure immigration policies are essential for the well-being of our nation. It is also important to recognize the difference between an MS-13 gang member and parents fleeing persecution with their children. As many of you know, I was an educator who worked with gang members in Los Angeles, some of whom identified as MS-13. I know firsthand the brokenness of gang violence. As a parent I also know what it is to fear for the safety of my child.
The situation at the border is complex and the reality of what is happening is not served by simplistic answers or political tribalism. Last year many Episcopalians journeyed to the Hutto Detention Center in Texas and saw firsthand the desperation of the women held there to be seen and heard. I have also been in conversation with bishops on the border and have heard firsthand accounts of the humanitarian crisis at our border. Adults and children are suffering, and as followers of Jesus, we are commanded to respond.
Regardless of our political opinion, our common ground as Christians is our desire to be faithful to God, fulfilling Jesus’ commandments to love our neighbors, to care for the widow and orphan, and to offer water and basic comforts to those who suffer. And as Episcopalians, we all seek to fulfill our baptismal vows: honoring the dignity of every human being and striving for justice and peace.
For this reason, I am inviting you to join me for a silent candlelit vigil to protest the inhumane conditions in the US detention camps this Friday evening, July 12th. In more than 600 cities and towns across America, people of all political backgrounds and opinions are gathering to listen to stories, to pray, and to hold vigil for the adults and children who are suffering at our border. More information about this national event can be found at lightsforliberty.org. I invite you to join me at the Syracuse vigil, where I will be among the speakers, or at a sister vigil closer to your own home (a list is below). Please invite your congregations, your friends, and your neighbors to join you. If you cannot attend, please take a moment at 9:00 p.m. on Friday to light a candle and pray.
- Binghamton: Friday, July 12th, 8:45 to 9:15 p.m. at Temple Concord, 9 Riverside Drive, Binghamton.
- Ithaca: Friday, July 12th, 7:00 to 9:15 p.m. at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Ithaca Commons, 100 North Tioga Street, Ithaca.
- Syracuse: Friday, July 12th, 7:30 to 9:15 p.m. at the James M. Hanley Federal Building, 100 South Clinton Street, Syracuse.
- Watertown: Friday, July 12th, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the Public Square, 101 Public Square, Watertown.
I pray we will be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and honor one another as blessed children of God. I am grateful for each of you, for your diverse ministries, for your faithfulness, and for your love of God and one another.
Blessings on the Way of Love,
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York