“Grito de las froteras/Cry from the Borders” reflection by The Rev. Luis-Alfredo Cartagena-Zayas
While taking the subway home after attending the Northeastern Regions Assembly this weekend Rev. Stephanie requested me to write a short piece so that The Park and friends would be informed of my recent service in El Paso,TX/Juarex,MX. Original called “Grito de la frontera/Cry from the Border” but later expanded to “Grito de las froteras/Cry from the Borders” to accurately express the concern we have for immigrants, exiles and refugees throughout the world.
I was requested by Rev. Dr. Peter Hetzel to participate in an action being organized by theologians throughout the United States to be a follow-up of a letter they made public criticizing the US Policy of “Zero Tolerance.” Words were simply not enough all involved felt that the Communities of Faiths had to provide what I insist on calling “Prophetic Push Back!”
Many of my Park family have heard me say, “I am not a Social Justice Pastor.” Rather, if I were to label myself I guess I’d say I do “Prophetic Justice” service for our beloved Park. Like most US Citizens, I pray, I was relieved when the news that the policy separating families when arriving at US southern borders was to end. Prior to my continuing I humbly ask you to ponder two simple, yet crucial, questions anyone can answer. First, “At what age did you learn your parents’ name were not Mami y Papi?” Second, “How old where you when you learned your family names?”
Your answer will inform you why I felt The Park should participate in Grito de las froteras! Along with our partners in the New Sanctuary Coalition NY it was decided we would bring children separated from their deported parents to Juarez, MX. Michelle and Juan Carlos along with Movimiento De Mujeres Migrantes y Sus Familias would be charged with this. I was charged with continuing to organizing Grito with Rev. Peter, preparing to lead a “Jericho Walk” at the El Paso Processing Center and to address the issues of Corporate Involvement and Responsibility regarding Zero Tolerance and immigration in general.
Yet all that I’ve informed you just touches upon The Park’s engaging in “Faith in Action!” At the end of the day, we will be judged as individuals, as Disciples, as Christians and as a nation by the degree to which we recognize the presence of God in the poor and vulnerable knocking on our doors looking for safety and refuge. Park participation in reuniting families and presence at the Border allowed us not to fail this basic moral test. It also allowed us to live into Disciples Polar North Star of Christian Unity. We joined with the Collegiate Church with Reverends Jacqui Lewis, Damaris Whittaker and laity from the Lower East Side and Fort Washington, the Lutheran Church with Rev. Juan Carlos Ruíz de Dios from Brooklyn, a host of Catholics from the Texas area including the Bishop of El Paso Rev. Mark Seitz, Fr. Robert Mosher of Centro Misionero Columbano, and Franciscan, Dominican, and Columban priests from both sides of the Texas Mexican Border.
Prophetic Justice like this allows us as individuals and churches to connect with the Spirit, courage and Power of God as we confront, not just human laws and injustices, but the demons and principalities responsible for such evil. Therefore, I am continually renewed as your servant and feel both humbled and blessed to serve both Christ and The Park congregation.