Local church uses banners to share message about immigration controversy

Church speaks up on detained families
Two banners hang outside Saint Philip's In The Hills on Campbell Avenue and River Road. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Two banners hang outside Saint Philip's In The Hills on Campbell Avenue and River Road. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Saint Philip's In The Hills is hosting a candlelight vigil Friday night. (Source: Facebook)
Saint Philip's In The Hills is hosting a candlelight vigil Friday night. (Source: Facebook)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A local church has a strong message about a recent immigration controversy.

"Jesus doesn't want kids to be in cages."

Printed on two banners, that message hangs outside Saint Philip's In The Hills Episcopal Church on Campbell Avenue and River Road.

"For us, it's hard to look at what's happening there and think that is something Jesus would have us be quiet about," said Father Robert Hendrickson, Rector at Saint Philip's In The Hills.

An image of a young boy next to what appears to be border patrol agents are also printed next to the words.  Father Hendrickson said the banners have been up for drivers at the busy intersection for about a week.

"When the banners went up, it was just a matter of saying, how do we tell the community this is where we stand, this is where the church stands, this is how we think Jesus would stand," said Father Hendrickson.

In a letter to the church, Fr. Hendrickson included several passages from the bible that he believes relate to what is happening at the border now.  He pointed out Deuteronomy 27:19 to Tucson News Now, which states: "Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien... of justice."

"I've had people say to me, 'why isn't the church saying anything?'  So, I think, too often when we see the church, or churches, taking a public stance on something, it's often around a divisive, quote moral issues.  To me, this is a moral issue that is uniting people of all faiths," Father Hendrickson said.

The banners seem to be making an impact, at least for Jordan Lewis.  Lewis was driving to his mother's house Wednesday when he pulled into the parking lot of the church.

"I was driving up Campbell to head up to my mom's house and saw the sign out on the street and thought someone who doesn't belong to the church and isn't religious should stop by and thank them for it," said Lewis.

"I think some positive message made by a religious institution in this situation is helpful," he said.

Fr. Hendrickson said the church held a prayer service last week, expecting a couple dozen people from surrounding churches to attend.  Instead, he said there were about 300 people.

"This isn't a political issue, this is a justice issue.  The church does justice, the church does love, justice is love lived out in public,"  Father Hendrickson said.

Saint Philip's In The Hills Episcopal Church is hosting a candlelight vigil Friday for families at the border.  The vigil is open to the public.

"I think, too often when we see the church, or churches, taking a public stance on something, it's often around a divisive, quote moral issues,"  Father Hendrickson said.  "To me, this is a moral issue that is uniting people of all faiths."

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