The Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate reported on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s presence at the Hutto Detention Facility, an ICE immigration holding center, run by CoreCivic, that’s been under fire in the form of complaints and lawsuits alleging “harsh conditions, poor food and sexually abusive guards” (Austin American-Statesman).
The NBCDFW report was brief, and included footage from Curry’s sermon: “Let us make America great again by making America good, by making America kind, by making America just, by making America loving.”
From the American-Statesman:
Curry’s remarks came as part of a peaceful protest against U.S. immigration policies, including the now-ceased practice of separating migrant children from their parents. As temperatures neared 90 degrees, Curry’s sermon mixed with hymns and peaceful chants beyond the perimeter of the detention center.
and its interview with the Reverend Megan Castellan:
“Turnout was really amazing,” said Rev. Megan Castellan of Ithaca, N.Y., the event’s chief organizer. “It goes to show how the church is ready for a Christianity that links voices and actions.”
Castellan said the group’s goal was to speak out against the policy of separating detained migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We’ve never done this before,” Castellan said, “but we thought it would be un-Christian to go to a border state during a humanitarian crisis and not do something to (show support and love) to those affected.”
The newspaper article mentioned the morning’s stand against gun violence in its final paragraph.
“The Jesus we believe in called us to side on the part of the oppressed and the suffering,” Castellan said. “When God came to earth, God came in the person of a refugee.”
James Wilson, a reverend from Minnesota and a Liberian immigrant, says the group passed a resolution condemning the policy during the conference.
“All the church leaders of the Episcopal Church are supporting this resolution that what is going on right now – separating children from their parents – needs to stop,” Wilson said.
The Texas Standard interviewed Curry about immigration policies and the separation of families for a July 6 post:
While Curry understands and appreciates the sentiments behind the “thoughts and prayers” often offered to victims of some unfortunate event, he believes that more than prayer is needed. In fact, he cites the Bible. Yes, he says, Christ prayed in the garden at Gethsemane, but he then died on the cross – for our sins. Curry uses this example to point out that prayer isn’t the only answer to societal woes.
“Prayer and action go together,” Curry says. “In terms of our public policy, I don’t believe that loving your neighbor as yourself ever means you separate a parent from a child when they’re seeking refuge.”
For Curry, this is a moment where Americans of all creeds can unite under what always made America great.
“For my brothers and sisters who may be atheist or agnostic, we share some other common values as Americans,” Curry says. “When America has been at its greatest, it has stood for truth and liberty and justice and human compassion and decency.”
MassLive reported on both the gun violence and the Hutto events. Reflecting on the detention center vigil,
The Rev. Victoria Ix, communications director for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, said Sunday’s prayer service outside a fenced, 500-bed Texas detention center for women run by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement drew waves from those detained.
“As we assembled in the area we were permitted to occupy, it was announced over the loud speaker that the women could hear us. We sang and prayed and sang some more,” said Ix in an email a few hours after the noon gathering organized by the Episcopal Church at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, a small town outside the capital of Austin.
“I can’t stop thinking about the women in that prison, or their children. It was such a lonely place. How they must long for their children, for their freedom.”
Ix estimated the attendance at around 1,500.
Hundreds were also said to attend an earlier event in Austin, organized by the 80-member Bishops United Against Gun Violence, that was attended by Curry and addressed by an Episcopalian couple – Philip and April Schentrup.
The Schentrup’s daughter Carmen was one of the 17 students and educators killed by a 19-year-old gunman in the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
“Gun violence is a complex issue that will take more than just thoughts and prayers. It will take many working hands and strong voices,” said April Schentrup in media reports,
“Enough is enough.”
MassLive corresponded with Douglas Fisher, Bishop of Western Massachusetts:
“I have proposed a resolution for ethical investing in gun companies,” said Fisher in an email about his attendance.
“If passed, this will direct the Episcopal Church to strategically invest in gun companies in order to get stockholder representation at meetings. I’ve proposed this in the spirit of the young people who gathered at Smith and Wesson inviting the leadership to a dialogue. They have been met with silence. I’m hoping this engagement with gun companies will allow their voices to be heard.”
“As part of our witness this week,” he added, “Bishops United Against Gun Violence is giving out 96 crosses every day symbolic of the 96 people killed every day in the United States by gun violence. By the 10th day and last day of General Convention, 960 people will be wearing crosses – approximately the number who will have died in gun violence while we are meeting. Not to mention the several thousand injured.”
The Austin Chronicle published a photo gallery of the Hutto Detention Center vigil here.
The NBC affiliate in Austin covered the gun rally live on Facebook here.
KXAN-NBC covered it here.
(Thanks to folks in Episcopal Communicators for noting these last two stories.)