Episcopal Bishops to Lead Service of Lament
Because newly announced US Border Patrol restrictions severely inhibit an annual communion service held for the past six years on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border fence, an alternate Service of Lament recognizing the plight of immigrants is set for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 17, at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 2660 Hardy Drive, Lemon Grove.
“Human beings have migrated since before they were clearly human,” said the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, assisting bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. “Our journeys have been driven by the search for food, shelter, and safety, as well as freedom from control and oppression by others. Called to the Wall is an Episcopal witness to concerns about borders and migration. Our prayerful work expresses the urgent desire for justice and mercy in engaging all migrants, and the ancient yearning for God’s justice here on earth, as it is in heaven. We continue to pray and advocate for that justice, that all humanity might live in peace. The journey may be long, yet we will persist, for the spiritual migration involved in learning to love our neighbors is ultimately essential to the flourishing of us all.”
Episcopalians from the dioceses of San Diego and Los Angeles will stand in solidarity with immigrants as they travel the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, a service of 14 stations commemorating Jesus’ walk to his crucifixion.
“We will gather at St. Philip’s where we can freely express our lament and sorrow over our inability to continue this annual expression of care, concern, friendship and solidarity with our Mexican neighbors which we have conducted with peace and without incident for the past six years,” said the Rev. Canon Nancy R. Holland, chief of staff and canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.
Traditionally, the event has been a joint Euchrist on both sides of the fence that separates the U.S. from Mexico, with Anglicans and Episcopalians on both sides. This week, just days before the event, planners received the following restrictions from Border Patrol:
- No more than 10 people allowed inside the Friendship Circle at any given time.
- No media outlets will be permitted inside the Friendship Circle.
- No photography or video.
- Overt political messages will not be permitted.
- No equipment including large crosses will be allowed.
Based on these new restrictions, planners do not believe they can adequately show solidarity with immigrants at the border. Participants will instead finish the Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis) at St. Philip’s, Lemon Grove, where they will conduct a service of lament to share deep concerns about immigration policies and practices in this country and demonstrate shared desire for immigration reform.