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Little church buildings nonetheless matter, says Martha’s Winery pastor of church that took in migrants

(RNS) — The Rev. Vincent “Chip” Seadale was at a denominational assembly in North Carolina when he received a name that one thing was brewing on Martha’s Winery.

The decision was from a counselor who generally attends St. Andrew’s, the small Episcopal church Seadale pastors in Edgartown, Massachusetts, a well-liked island vacationer vacation spot.

She had simply realized that about 50 migrants from Venezuela had landed on the airport on Wednesday and wanted assist. They’d been despatched to the Winery, about 28 miles offshore of Cape Cod, by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as a part of a technique by Republican governors to ship immigrants to blue states.

Seadale and different members of the Martha’s Winery Island Clergy Affiliation did what clergy do when a disaster occurs: They jumped in to help.

“We simply determined we have been going to make it work after which hope for the very best,” stated Seadale in a cellphone interview.

For 2 nights, St. Andrew’s performed host to the Venezuelans, offering meals and a spot to remain on the parish home, which hosts a shelter 4 nights every week through the winter. The church corridor is already outfitted with cots, a big kitchen, showers and laundry for the shelter.


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The Rev. Vincent “Chip” Seadale holds his grandson at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Mass. Picture courtesy of Chip Seadale

Different church buildings and neighborhood members despatched meals, garments and different provides — whereas the Martha’s Vineyard Community Fund collected funds to assist the Venezuelans. Immigration legal professionals and different volunteers confirmed as much as assist them determine the place to go subsequent. Many have been within the U.S. to hunt asylum and have contacts right here however wanted assist connecting with them.

The Rev. Janet Newton, a minister on the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Winery, stated that clergy, like different neighborhood leaders and residents of the island, had no concept the migrants have been coming.

“Sarcastically,” she stated, “we have been ready, though we had no warning.”

The Winery, she stated, is usually seen as a playground for the wealthy and highly effective. Former President Obama and different celebrities — tv host David Letterman, journalist Diane Sawyer and movie director Spike Lee — personal houses on the island, she stated, and that shapes how outsiders see the Winery.

That’s not the entire story. Within the low season, she stated, many individuals battle. Inexpensive housing is tough to come back by, and at instances, people who work seasonal jobs can’t make ends meet. As a geographically remoted neighborhood, Newton stated, year-round residents have realized to deal with one another.

“That’s in all probability a little bit of a shock to the individuals who despatched the planes right here,” she stated. “They didn’t perceive how our neighborhood operated or that we might be ready for this. Hospitality issues right here.”

Newton stated clergy on the island and different neighborhood providers had realized to work carefully to resolve long-term and short-term crises.

She worries the Venezuelans are getting used as pawns in a political drama, which Newton sees as an act of cruelty. As a religion chief, her response to that cruelty is to behave in love.

“We’re taught to welcome the stranger,” she stated.

By Friday afternoon, migrants who needed to depart the Winery have been transferred to a brand new shelter at Joint Base Cape Cod, which is operated by the state and federal governments. State officers are working to supply assist providers, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, stated in a statement.

He additionally praised residents of the Winery for his or her hospitality.

“We’re grateful to the suppliers, volunteers and native officers that stepped up on Martha’s Winery over the previous few days to supply fast providers to those people,” Baker stated in an announcement.

A woman, who is part of a group of immigrants that had just arrived, holds a child as they are fed outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration's failed border policies. (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)

A girl who’s a part of a bunch of immigrants that had simply arrived holds a toddler as they’re fed outdoors St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Winery. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of immigrants to Martha’s Winery, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to attract consideration to what they take into account to be the Biden administration’s failed border insurance policies. (Ray Ewing/Winery Gazette through AP)

Elizabeth Folcarelli, who runs Martha’s Winery Neighborhood Companies, instructed reporters that the Venezuelans have been instructed they’d be going to Boston.

“They have been instructed that they’d have a job and they might have housing,” Folcarelli instructed the Related Press.

Governor DeSantis’ workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark.

“We’re not a sanctuary state, and it’s higher to have the ability to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction, and sure, we are going to assist facilitate that transport for you to have the ability to go to greener pastures,” DeSantis instructed CNN in taking credit for sending the migrants to the Winery.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state officers claim to have bused 10,000 migrants to New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., together with 100 who have been dropped off close to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the place Vice President Kamala Harris lives.

The Rev. Kenneth Younger, affiliate director of the Massachusetts Council of Church buildings, stated that religion teams within the Bay State have lengthy assisted immigrants — however their efforts typically fly underneath the radar. He stated that the story of the Venezuelans despatched to the Winery received consideration — due to the island’s popularity.

However comparable tales occur on a regular basis, he stated.

“Lots of people are taking part in video games with individuals’s lives proper now,” stated Younger.

Catholic Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, which incorporates the Winery, pledged to proceed to help the migrants from Venezuela.

“Our welcome to them have to be marked by respect and compassion and be coupled with our prayers for them within the weeks and months forward,” he said in an announcement.

Florida’s Catholic bishops known as reviews of the Venezuelans being despatched to the Winery “disconcerting.”

“Immigration isn’t just a political subject however a basic human and ethical subject,” the Florida Convention of Catholic Bishops stated in an announcement. “For immigrants aren’t faceless numbers — however human individuals. They’re our brothers and sisters.” 

St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Mass. Photo courtesy of Chip Seadale

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Mass. Picture courtesy of Chip Seadale

Seadale stated he was grateful for church members who rallied to assist the Venezuelans and for the help from different congregations and the broader neighborhood. As a result of he was out of state, most of his job was making cellphone calls when individuals within the church responded on the bottom.

He stated that little church buildings like St. Andrew’s nonetheless matter. And the response of the church and the neighborhood exhibits that when individuals hearken to their hearts, they will nonetheless rally collectively.

Love, he stated, nonetheless is the reply. And religion leaders can select to assist heal the nation’s divides — quite than fueling them.

“It’s changing into a lot clearer to me lately that there’s a function for accountable individuals of religion,” he stated. “We have to step up and fill this void in a accountable means — caring for everybody, it doesn’t matter what they are saying or assume.”


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