By Stevie K. Carmody, Intern Minister
Many months have passed since this protest, but the learnings have stuck with me, and the urgency of this call has not abated. Because of my short (3 hour) detention and the ensuing Federal Misdemeanor charge, I waited to offer something to this blog until after my court date had passed. On May 8th, I pleaded guilty in court to a charge of “nonconformity to the lawful orders of a federal agent.” Those detained and charged that day were ordered to pay a fine and perform community service. Here’s the story of that day, to complement Rev. Kathleen’s account on this blog, and offer my own reflections:
Love knows no borders. Not only is this a truth in the reality of people’s lives and experience today – it has always been a truth – we’ve been loving beyond and across barriers and borders since we knew we could love. And earlier this month, Love Knows No Borders was also a campaign, organized by the American Friends Services Committee – a campaign to draw attention to what has been happening to migrant families, to people living in dangerous circumstances and crippling poverty who walked for weeks to our border, to seek asylum, to try for a better life for themselves and their present and future children. In spite of the horrible treatment our government has imposed on families already living in this country – separating families, taking children out of the arms of their parents (15,000 children currently living in temporary tent cities and shelters), the caravan of people from Latin America came in hope. And though I was recently back from part 1 of my sabbatical, I knew I needed to participate. I had to respond to the immoral and inhumane behavior of my government and how they were treating people who were coming to our border to ask for asylum.
Text of the speech delivered by Rev. Kathleen Owens at the San Diego Organizing Project's Border Wall Press Conference in San Ysidro.
"Good afternoon, I’m the Rev. Kathleen Owens, Lead Minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego answering the call of Love. We are here to speak the truth – that unless we are of Indigenous Native American or Mexican heritage, we are all immigrants on this land. We’re here to name the truth that immigrants have always made this country better…that we need bridges, not walls."
This prayer was offered by Rev. Kathleen Owens at an Interfaith Vigil honoring Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, Friday, July 15, 2016
"Spirit of Life…God of many names and no names…we are here today in grief, in mourning for the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile – two African American men who are tragically representative of so many African Americans who have been killed by excessive police force…killed by questionable means…dead due to systemic racism, not only in our society but within the very structures and systems that are supposed to keep people safe…that are supposed to help and not harm. Dear God, we are angry; our hearts are broken, our heads ache trying to make any sense out of all of this and our spirits are weary of the constant stream of violence that divides the human family. With all of this, it is too easy to give in to despair, give in to apathy, to give in to hate and revenge…but God we know you call us to be better than that; Spirit of Love you lead us into another way; you call us into action, into solidarity with one another, so that we might demonstrate the truth that hate and racism will not divide us; that bigotry and violence will not stop us from living out the truth that we are all connected and that it is long-past time for us to see one another clearly, it is time for us to do the work of justice for all our neighbors and kin; it is time to find a way beyond stereotypes and fear and create meaningful change in our streets and in our neighborhoods…give us strength to do the hard work of real relationship building – give us patience to learn and listen to one another – give us courage to speak out against white privilege and systemic racism; give us the wisdom to work with leaders and officers that will ensure equal protection under the law for ALL of US; …help us oh God to continue the work for racial justice. This we ask in the name of all that is holy. Amen."
I had the privilege of being one of 31 speakers at Wednesday night's budget meeting...the first budget meeting County Supervisors have ever had in the evening. It was a meaningful experience and I was proud to stand in partnership with SDOP and others in the coalition of Invest in San Diego Families. The three minutes they gave me to speak went quickly so here are my full comments.
"Hello – I am Rev. Kathleen Owens, I live in District 4 and I am the Lead Minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Diego with two campuses…one in District 4 (San Diego) and the other in District 1 (Chula Vista) serving over 750 members and friends, and we are a member congregation of the San Diego Organizing project (SDOP). Thank you for this evening meeting on this important issue of the County budget. The church I serve is a partner with several of the groups that make up the Invest in San Diego Families coalition. As a lead minister with two campuses that includes multiple buildings and on-going maintenance needs and more, I very well understand the need to have reserve funds; I appreciate the strategic thinking of planning for unexpected needs; the need to have a rainy-day fund…our own church budget operates similarly. But I am also keenly aware of, as are members of my congregation, that we are not meant to be a savings bank while programs and services for people are kept at a minimum. What this coalition is saying is that the rainy day you are saving for…is happening right now."
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