The Little Church That Turned the Tables on DeSantis and Abbott

A little Episcopal church on Martha’s Vineyard flipped the anti-immigrant scripts of Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis by embracing, with open doors and hearts, a group of migrants flown there from Texas and Florida. Such flights are part of a scheme by Republican governors of border states to spite Democrats whose immigration policies they oppose. Progressive Christians on Martha’s Vineyard turned the tables on Abbott and DeSantis by spreading tables of welcome for the migrants. From Episcopal News Service:

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts – a summer resort town on Martha’s Vineyard – was thrust into the national spotlight after taking in 48 migrants who were unexpectedly dropped off on the island on Sept. 14.

For almost two days, the small parish provided shelter to the migrants – including some children – who are reported to be mostly from Venezuela. Most spoke little or no English and did not know where they were.

With no warning that the migrants were coming, church leaders and locals leapt into action and “banded together as an island community to really do something miraculous,” St. Andrew’s rector, the Rev. Chip Seadale, told Episcopal News Service.

During their stay at the church, donations of supplies and services – including offers of legal counsel, language interpretation and even dental work – poured in. The migrants’ basic needs were met thanks to the “amazing outpouring of community support,” said St. Andrew’s Co-Warden Palmer Marrin.

The migrants were moved to Joint Base Cape Cod on Sept. 16, where accommodations, legal services and health care were set up for them. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration is supporting the local effort with state emergency aid.

The migrants were welcomed into the parish hall and church basement, where they had access to bathrooms, laundry facilities and a kitchen. During their stay, they were given meals, clothes and legal consultation. According to Vineyard Gazette reporter Brooke Kushwaha, Spanish-speaking students from the local high school were dismissed to go talk with the migrants and played ball games with them in the parking lot.

Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates, Bishop Suffragan Gayle Harris and diocesan staff consulted with St. Andrew’s clergy and leaders as the situation developed, said diocesan Communications Director Tracy Sukraw.

“We deplore the treatment of human beings as pawns in political disputes,” Gates wrote in a statement. “Unannounced relocations and family separations are not humane, nor do they promote constructive immigration policy debate. We are grateful to the people of St. Andrew’s and to the entire Martha’s Vineyard community for their compassionate response to people in need, and pledge our support of those efforts.”

Executive Director, Progressive Christians Uniting/
ZOE: Progressive Christian Life on Campus

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