Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life


Dear saints,
We have been bombarded by at least two kinds of storms in the recent past. The first kind is
the calamitous storms of nature, Harvey, and now Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm on
record. These compounded by the impact of the deluge in the sub-continent have left millions
vulnerable in so many ways. The second is of the “man-made” storm category and involves the
threat of nuclear war and the most recent threat of deportation of thousands of young people
who say, “this land is my land,” since this is the only land they know.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), in the spirit of Christ’s words is, “Let the children
come to me, and do not stop them” (Matthew 19:14). The essence of Christian practice is to be
as Christ to each other. St. Paul reminds us to “put on Christ,” (Romans 13:14, Ephesians 4:24
and Galatians 3:27) which in this situation would mean welcoming as Christ welcomes children
and all into the household of God, where God dwells with us and is more than about being a
nuclear family. Welcome means welcome, and all means all! I also understand Jesus’ caution
“do not stop them” to mean that then as it is playing out now, we, as human beings seem to be
losing our balance about the fact that:
 all children need to be nurtured, not cast aside or ignored
 all children are our children
 any child who is hurt or shunned is our child who is hurt or shunned

In other words, children belong to the community, not just to biological parents. These young
ones have grown up in our country and it is irresponsible to suggest that they be deported. I
also hear an invitation from Christ who said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”
(Matthew 25:35). To appropriate the welcome of a stranger is to welcome Christ himself. These
are some simple reasons DACA is a spiritual issue for me.

I find it ironic that in a country where young Americans don’t always live responsible lives that
we would reject nearly 800,000 undocumented young people have lived with clean records.
These young people listened to their parents, teachers and mentors. They chose to practice
self-responsibility and self-care. To be threatened now to “leave” their only home and the only
way of life they know because they don’t have the paper work seems irrational and in my
opinion, unwise.

Let us not forget that Jesus was a refugee himself when he traveled to Egypt, presumably
without the appropriate papers, with his parents who were committing a “crime,” because they
believed protecting their child from tyranny was more important than anything else. This
country was founded on the notion that most everyone came to these shores without much
documentation to start a new life. Laws followed the original migrations. These laws, while
important, are not beyond the laws of God that are and will always be beyond borders when it
comes to the humane treatment of one another. To find a neighbor who has no papers is to
find a friend who needs help with incorporation, not deportation, unless he or she is a criminal
because they chose to live free from tyranny where they were. Tyranny is tyranny and
whatever the color of your skin fleeing from it is an act of agency.

Of all the reasons, I find it hardest to digest the fact that this country is perceived as belonging
to those who came into it as conquerors. There was and is nothing moral or legal about the first
arrival of the Pilgrims who cheated/abused the Native Peoples of this land to dominate it. There
was nothing “Christian” about that. Were we to use moral judgment, all of us who came here
have overstayed our welcome in this great land of the First Nations that we call home. To have
the humility to accept this truth and transmit the grace we have received to others is what
scripture commends; “…to whom much has been given much will be required and from the one
to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded (Luke 12:14). I do not endorse
breaking the law. In a strange way, I am grateful that we, the silent majority, have been
“provoked” to wake up in this moment to protect the Dreamers and the soul of this country.
Therefore, here is what I suggest. I plead with all Episcopalians to stand with and defend these
children and young people. I invite you to intercede for them in the Prayers of the People and in
your personal prayers until we can give thanks for their restoration of dignity. If you have not
done so already, write or call your Congress and Senate Representatives to protect these young
ones. Thank them if they already support DACA. I will be at the Greater Rochester Community
of Churches gathering tomorrow at the Federal Building in Rochester at noon on Friday,
September 8, and will also be calling for prayer vigils in various parts of our Diocese. Please look
for them and join them as you are able.

We follow an incarnate Christ who became a human being and did not remain a mere intention.
When my neighbor’s dignity is at stake, it becomes my spiritual responsibility to correct that.
Regardless of political affiliation, I am calling for your spiritual solidarity with the least of these
members of our family. I ask your prayers for all who are in authority.

Your fellow traveler,

Bishop Prince Singh