Unaccompanied Children

We are facing an escalating humanitarian crisis as a growing number of children flee escalating violence in Central America. So far in FY 2014 alone 57,000 children have sought refuge at our borders. It is from dire circumstances that a child chooses to migrate thousands of miles. As people of faith we have an ethical obligation to care for the most vulnerable among us. The root causes of these changing migration patterns are extreme poverty, violence, and rising homicide rates in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, from which most of the children are arriving.

A Pastoral Letter on Child Refugees from the National Leaders of the United Church of Christ

Congregations from the UCC Southern California Nevada Conference participated in a faith-based delegation traveling to the Naval Base Ventura County in Oxnard, Calif., which is currently housing hundreds of unaccompanied Central American children, to ensure transparency and oversight at the facility.

The National Officers of the United Church of Christ and the Council of Conference Ministers — the leaders of the denomination’s regional conferences — shared a pastoral letter addressing the tens of thousands of young refugees fleeing Central and Latin America and seeking safety in the United States. In a unified voice, UCC leaders declared their support for these children that are leaving their homelands out of fear. This is a unique moment that tests the church’s commitment for justice and peace. Read the full pastoral letter.

Compassion and Prayers for Unaccompanied Migrant Children

Join people of faith in praying and acting to protect these children! The United Church of Christ is urging members and congregations to take a moment during church services to pray for and stand in silent witness with thousands of young refugees fleeing violence and conflict in Central America and the people and communities throughout the country working to help them.

There are several things you and your congregation can do:

Pray -Your church can pray for the protection of the children, who have travelled hundreds of miles to escape the violence in their home countries. During church services on Sunday, July 20 is the is a day designiated for interfaith engagement but any day you congregation choses will work, the UCC is asking for prayers of support for:

  • The children and their families. For the violence and poverty that forces people to leave their homes and loved ones. For the broken hearts of parents seperated from their children. For a better world where all God's children can find safety.
  • The United Church of Christ national headquarters, which is issuing a special appeal to raise funds to assist these refugee women and children, a response to UCC congregations seeking ways to help.
  • The UCC-affiliated Bethany Children’s Home in Womelsdorf, Penn., which has so far helped more than 60 unaccompanied minors through its Helping Hands program, and plans to help hundreds more in the coming months.
  • Yuma United Church of Christ in Yuma, Ariz., which provides food, clothing, water, diapers and other supplies to women and children left by U.S. Border Patrol in public parking lots to fend for themselves.   
  • The Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, which is serving as a donation collection center and working to distribute supplies to its local congregations.    
  • The Southern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ that is supporting the work of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, which has so far collected and distributed tens of thousands of items to young refugees.  
  • United Church of the Valley United Church of Christ in Murrieta, Calif., whose members brought a peaceful presence to the city’s angry protests, and continue to advocate for these children by working with their congressional representatives.

The United Methodist California-Pacific Conference has created some prayer resources for you to download and use.

Act - Both the Senate and House have introduced emergency funding bills to respond to the unaccompanied children fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Calls to your Senators and Representative are urgently needed today (7/30). Tell them to REJECT rollbacks to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and to INCREASE funding for refugee resettlement. Visit tiny.cc/ProtectKids for more info and to take action.

Give - Your financial contribution is multiplied by joining with others to increase the capacity of the UCC to address humanitarian needs and to shape the future. Provide food, water, safe places, a listening pastoral ear, religious services, and legal assistance that provides access to the U.S. legal system to tell stories for official documentation. The situation changes rapidly. You are there in the right place at the right time. Thank you for your contributions.

Make a secure on-line donation noting "Unaccompanied Child Refugees" in the comments section. Gifts may also be made at your local UCC congregation noting support for “Unaccompanied Child Refugees". Gifts should then be sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries. Donations may also be made out and sent directly to Wider Church Ministries, Financial Services - 6th Floor, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.

Join Us - Come to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, July 31 to tell the President to stop ALL deportations! More than 2 million deportations have taken place under the current administration, and now the our leader's are propsing to deport children fleeing poverty and violence. We cannot stand for immigration policies that are rooted in isolationism, protectionism, and detachment: all of which are antithetical to our call as Christians to love and provide hospitality for the most vulnerable.

Please contact UCC Rev. Noel Andersen if you can join people of faith from all over to sacrificially engage in civil disobedience in front of the White House on July 31 and urge President Obama to stop ALL deportations, whether the person is 5 years old or 105.

More of the UCC Response

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CONTACT INFO

Rev. Bentley de Bardelaben
Executive for Administration and Communications Justice & Witness Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3713
debardeb@ucc.org