Dear church family,

In light of the recent separations of children from families at US borders as well as throughout the country in other ICE-related detainment processes, the Grace Meridian Hill diaconate has decided to contribute August's Mercy Fund offering in service to the Young Center, an organization based in Chicago but with representatives across Texas, California, NYC, and right here in DC that focuses on children in the immigration system--providing pro bono legal services to unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings (including all children separated from their parents) and serving as Child Advocates for unaccompanied minors (advocating within the legal system for best interest of the child).

That Mercy Fund offering will be taken, as it is customarily, at the very end of the first Sunday worship service of the month (this month: August 5, this Sunday) during the closing song, separate from the usual weekly tithes and offerings gathered mid-service. 

We wanted to give you all advanced notice of this special Mercy Offering and to also inform you that whatever you give to the Mercy Offering this coming Sunday will then also be MATCHED by the diaconate from our existing Mercy Funds. 

The diaconate's calling is "to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress" (BCO 9-2), and the Mercy Fund is a dedicated diaconal fund designed to both support people within our GMH community as well as people in our wider community in great distress or crisis. As Christians, God's word calls us to “[...] not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt" (Exodus 22:21). Other scriptural mandates to not oppress foreigners or the fatherless and more than that, to love them as we love ourselves abound (Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 10:17-19, Deuteronomy 24:17-22, Deuteronomy 27:19, Ezekiel 22:29-31, Zechariah 7:8-10).

While there is much room for healthy debate about immigration and border control policy, it seems clear that the separation of children from their parents during immigration and detainment-related processes is not in robust alignment with God's call to care for the foreigner as we would care for ourselves, and also with God's call to esteem children and protect those most vulnerable: "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward." (Psalm 127:3). Other verses supporting the esteem of children include Genesis 33:5, Lamentations 3:33, Matthew 18:5, Matthew 19:13-14, Mark 9:36-37, Mark 10:13-14, Luke 18:16, Ephesians 6:4, and Colossians 3:21.

The diaconate, as well as several of YOU who have expressed interest in responding to the known needs of vulnerable, newly "fatherless" children now within our borders, have researched several options for organizations doing work to advocate for and support these vulnerable children, and has determined to donate to the Young Center, because of its commitment to supporting children through free legal aid and serving as Child Advocates around the country.

Please prayerfully consider giving to this special Mercy Offering this Sunday. And if you are interested in further dialogue, prayer, or other connection over this issue in community, please do not hesitate to contact the diaconate with your thoughts and ideas. We would love to support YOU as you consider how to engage this, and other issues, having to do with the care and love of those most vulnerable in our communities.

Peace in Christ,
Mary Katherine, together with the rest of the Diaconate

P.S. - For more information on how to volunteer locally here in DC as a Child Advocate with the Young Center, you can visit: https://www.theyoungcenter.org/volunteer-at-the-young-center/ Another great local organization, Sanctuary DMV, also needs volunteers to accompany migrants to ICE check-ins, immigration, and other court hearings.