A Crisis and Opportunity

Labor Day is the traditional ending of summer and the beginning of church activities. Personally, my marriage anniversary (18 years this year!) falls on September 4th, so Labor Day is a mental reminder to get the gift, card, and make dinner arrangements for that special day!

In Chicago, Labor Day was preceded by a bus load of immigrants sent to the city from Texas. As Mayor Lori Lightfoot illuminated in her response to the crisis, “These are human beings, not cargo, not freight, but human beings being sent across the country to an uncertain destination.” The first group arrived August 31. A total of 6 buses with 275 people have arrived since then.

Many groups have stepped up to bring aid during this crisis. One of the groups is Erie House. Erie House was founded in 1870 inside the Holland Presbyterian Church. Since its founding, the Presbytery of Chicago has played a critical role in their growth and development. Today, the mission, which Presbyterians helped begin over 150 years ago, is one of our community partners. Cristina De La Rosa, Executive Director of Erie House writes:

Once again, the City of Chicago finds itself at the center of a changing landscape for immigration. Erie House is here to support our community partners and the city as we welcome the new arrivals from Texas. One of our staff members on the ground the day one of the buses arrived shared a story with me about a recent arrival. The new arrival was grateful to finally be able, after months of travel, to sleep on a bed. Another shared how she is now considering staying in Chicago because she felt so welcomed and treated with dignity after bad experiences on the long journey that brought her to our sanctuary city.

Every day we try to embody our vision of a home without borders to create powerful communities. Erie House can provide immigration benefit consultation, ESL classes, early childhood education, and with the help of our Health and Leadership Program, we can help set realistic expectations while we meet their basic needs.

This immigrant crisis is an opportunity for us to be the Presbytery of Chicago. Caring about the issues of Chicago means responding when the values of the city intersect with the values of our Christian faith. We have a chance to demonstrate our hospitality for the outsider, the migrant, and all of God’s people.

I am listing several web pages you can go to and find ways to help. Whatever you can do will make a difference.

Rev. Craig M. Howard

 https://eriehouse.org For a list of ways to help Erie house and to volunteer.

https://www.chicago.gov/city/en.html For a video of Mayor Lightfoot’s immigrant response.

https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/texas-new-arrivals/home.html For a list of ways to help Chicago and volunteer.