January 25 – January 25, 2018
It is such a deep privilege for me to do work that supports the work and witness of BPFNA members.
Earlier today, board member Ximena Montemayor took part in a march supporting the World Day of Fasting, Prayer, and Action in solidarity with Ayotzinapa. This day of events remembers the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa and calls for justice.
This weekend, a team of BPFNA members will take part in the annual events calling for the close of the School of the Americas. At this year's event called La Lucha Sigue! Convergence of Hope and Resistance at Fort Benning they join thousands of teachers, farmers, students, unionists, queer folk, and environmentalists to converge at the gates of the School of the Americas (SOA; also known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, WHINSEC), where they'll continue to reaffirm life and creativity in the face of Empire.
And just today I've heard from board member Nathan Watts about his decision to go to Ferguson this Saturday (See his powerful message below).
We also received good news from board member Katy Friggle-Norton. She and her husband, Doug, have been involved in the movement to support Angela Navarro, a Honduran immigrant with a family of U.S. citizens who has been facing deportation for more than a decade. By moving into a church in North Philadelphia, Angela is adding to a growing movement of immigrants seeking refuge in churches across the country in defiance of federal deportation orders (See Katy's full report below).
All this in just four days of the life of the BPFNA.
Please join me in prayers of gratitude for these lives of witness -- and in prayers for the transformation of the principalities and powers against which we struggle.
Peace, we know, is rooted in justice. I'm beyond grateful for dear friends and colleagues who work for it.
From Nathan Watts:
I've been invited by our friends at FOR to be a presence on the ground in Ferguson and the larger St. Louis area as we anticipate a non-indictment of Darren Wilson in the slaying of Michael 'Mike Mike' Brown. While I am at this time unsure of what exactly I'll be doing during my days and nights there, I anticipate being utilized in at least three ways- 1) support for FOR staff as they continue the training' in non-violent direct action and civil disobedience in conjunction with the local groups who have been organizing and protesting since August, namely the Don't Shoot Coalition, Lost Voices, and Hands Up United and 2) a participant in the actions of disobedience and 3) an aid in the established churches and safe houses in and around the communities of Ferguson, Shaw and the greater St. Louis area.
I've been wrestling with how to best be in solidarity with the young folks, women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community who are out on the streets nightly, making their voices heard that these most recent incidents in the long standing American Tradition of murderous and state protected violence against African Americans, while a part of our past, will not be a part of our future. The invitation by FOR made the choice plain for me: Be on the ground, risk arrest and physical safety, and learn from my brothers and sisters about how to take on a racist and militaristic empire that daily challenges your humanity and right to life.
A personal narrative I read about the initial demonstrations in Ferguson after the shooting of Mike Mike ended with these words: "When the 'peace' you are continuously urged to return to looks like powerlessness, humiliation, poverty, boredom and violence, it shouldn't be a surprise that many choose to fight. And to witness the ferocity with which some of us fight, it's almost as if we've been waiting for this moment our entire lives." I am honored and eager to join this community of dissenters as we challenge oppressive forces to hear our voices as we define peace and justice in this moment and for our collective and mutually at-risk future.
My BPFNA connections have made my participation in these events possible, and I thank you for that. But, I urge you, as my Peace Fellowship family, to wrestle with how you define solidarity in this moment, and what you'll do about it.
From Katy Friggle-Norton:
Doug and I were at West Kensington Ministry all morning with a couple of hundred other supporters as this young woman, Angela, entered sanctuary there. We know her parents, who are active in the New Sanctuary Movement and who were married the same year we were; Angela is a year younger than our son and daughter-in-law.
There were 10 of us from Central Baptist Church among 150-200 people, including loads of press. We were high all day on the power of the moment. Last night at a Messiah rehearsal, singing with 200 voices, the emotional piece of it overwhelmed me. She is a 28-year-old mother of two children -- her son is 11 and her daughter is 8 -- with her husband and parents standing by her. She has so much to lose if she is deported. We all worked for this to happen and celebrate Angela's willingness to take a stand; yet at the same time I feel very tender about her vulnerability in an unjust system. My heart is broken for her and so many others in the immigrant community who are good people, upstanding non-citizens who bring the richness of their faith, their energy, their hard work, and their friendship and who are treated as criminals and unwanted debris.
Angela is taking this step for the whole immigrant community, drawing attention to the inequities and injustices of the immigration system. As the ninth in the country to go into sanctuary, she is part of a new and growing movement.
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