A UMNS photo by Jan Snider
Last week, our Bishop received a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) representatives for assistance in providing shelter for children and their parents. These are vulnerable asylum and refugee families housed in units around Arizona. ICE requests that the churches help by providing a more humane place to stay as they transition and travel to family members.
Two of our churches are stepping up to be host sites: First United Methodist Church Tucson and Christ Church United Methodist. One will house mothers with children, and the other will house fathers with children. ICE officials have assisted in preparing the churches to receive the young families, and the first families will arrive on Tuesday, December 13th. We don’t know how long this will continue. Yesterday, ICE personnel said San Antonio has been doing this for three years and right now the numbers are increasing, but no one knows how long there will be a need. Estimates indicate between 10 to 50 children and parents at the host sites per day.
While two churches are hosting and sheltering the families, it will take all of us to provide care for these children and their parent. Churches are uniting by providing donations. Money is needed to provide blankets, mats, car seats, food, etc. If you or your church is interested in contributing, send your monetary contribution to Desert Southwest Conference at 1550 E. Meadowbrook Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85014, with a note in the memo stating The Inn Project. We will also need help with volunteers. Click here to give online, register as a volunteer, or to commit to pray.
We are also working on the possibility of engaging a church in the Phoenix area to be a host site.
What is The Inn Project?
That’s the name we have given to this ministry. During this season of Advent, we remember how Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem and there was no room at the Inn. But today in Arizona, we are finding room for those travelers who are seeking safety and shelter and home. Thank you for your prayers, your financial and in-kind gifts, and your service of presence. May the Christ child in our hearts and the children in our world feel the welcome and love we offer.
Faith, hope, & love,
Rev. Dr. Dottie Escobedo-Frank
South District Superintendent
Desert Southwest Conference
The United Methodist Church