Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Martin Luther King's spirit is alive (and much needed) in Pasadena!

Jill speaking at the Metropolitan Baptist Church during the MLK celebration


I have often been disappointed by the public speeches given on Martin Luther King day, especially by public officials here in Pasadena. Public officials tend to be bland and often misrepresent Dr. King by equating his call of economic justice as the "prosperity gospel" ("work hard and you'll succeed and get rich").  In the past, the most impressive and prophetic word came from a sixteen-year-old high school student and from other young people who better understand King's message of compassion and concern for the "least of these.". https://laquaker.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-prophetic-word-from-sixteen-year-old.html) But his year I felt inspired and challenges by the services I attended on Sunday. Perhaps this is an unexpected and unintended consequence of electing a racist President who refers to Haiti and African countries as "shitholes."
I went to All Saints Episcopal Church, the most progressive church in our city, where I heard Rev. Traci Blackmon,  an activist preacher who was appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and co-chaired the Municipal Governance and Court Reform workgroup. According to her bio, "her work has gained her many audiences inclusive of both the Vatican and the White House. An internationally sought speaker and certified diversity trainer," Rev. Blackmon did not mince words. “Prophetic resistance is only possible for those who can still dream … those who can imagine a better world while they are awake. Stay woke!" You can hear her powerful sermon at https://allsaints-pas.org/where-are-the-dreamers/
I was also impressed because All Saints "walks its talk." Its rector Mike Kinman is committed to racial justice, supports Black Lives Matter, and was the only pastor to speak out against the beating of Christopher Ballew by Pasadena police at a meeting that took place at City Council on Monday, Jan. 8. I am quite sure that if he were alive, Dr. King would be standing with those who are calling for police accountability in Pasadena. Here's what I wrote three years ago:
 In his sermon at Riverside Church (1968), King made himself very unpopular in government circles with this statement“I realized I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government.” Those in power don’t like to be reminded how state power is being abused by the police and the military. For this reason, I’d like to lift up local efforts to provide oversight for the police in Pasadena and other parts of the country. Here in Pasadena Kris Ockerhauser, Michelle White and others have started the Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of Pasadena Police (CICOPP).  which is advocating for an independent “Police Auditor” to investigate charges of police misconduct and report directly to the City Council. The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a coalition of black pastors (including my wife Jill, who is neither a pastor nor black!), has joined the ACLU, NAACP and others calling for the full disclosure of an independent report about the police killing of Kendrec McDade, an unarmed 19-year-old African American. (The Pasadena Police Union is fiercely fighting to prevent this report from being made public and is doing its utmost to influence religious leaders.) Jill will be speaking about the need for police oversight at the IMA Martin Luther King event on Sunday. King would be pleased: he was always on the side of those who want accountability for those who wield power!

Three years later, the police and the City Council continue to try to thwart efforts to hold police accountable for racial profiling and unwarranted violence against people of color. To read about what happened during the recent City Council meeting, see https://laquaker.blogspot.com/2018/01/an-open-letter-to-pasadena-city-council.html
In the afternoon, I attended the MLK service at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Altadena, sponsored by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA), the oldest association of black pastors in our city.
Ever since moving to Northwest Pasadena 18 years ago, Jill has been part of this association where she is loved and respected, and the feeling is mutual. I was thrilled that the IMA has endorsed the Poor People's Campaign and the Palm Sunday Peace Parade, and showed a video explaining the mission of this campaign, which drew a lot a applause from the audience.
Rep Chu with Pastor Bledsoe, President
of the IMA
The most impressive public official to speak was Congresswoman Judy Chu. She proudly announced that she was arrested for standing up for the Dreamers during a demonstration in the Capitol. She is passionately committed to social justice, especially for immigrants, and also wants to ensure the Voting rights Act is enforced. She truly embodies the spirit of Dr. King. 
I was also glad that the keynote, Pastor Cambell of the AME Church of Pasadena, spoke about the social justice message of MLK.  He also was one of only two pastors present at the City Council meeting where passionate public comments about the Ballew incident were aired. He has a concern about police conduct and accountability. So does the IMA, thanks be to God! They see that justice and Jesus go together. Without justice there can be no peace in the community. As
I was also delighted that Jill had a chance to speak to students on Saturday and introduced the scholarship recipients during the MLK event on Sunday. (Over the years, the IMA has given thousands of scholarships to African American students that have helped them to earn their college degrees.) Here is the text of what Jill shared with students. 

                                                        ******


In December 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King announced the plan to bring together poor people from across the country for a new march on Washington. This march was to demand better jobs, better homes, better education—better lives than the ones they were living.
Just a year before his assassination, at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff retreat in May 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
“It is necessary for us to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights…[W]hen we see that there must be a radical redistribution of economic and political power,”
What does this mean? It means that those who have more share. It means that those who have larger homes share with those how none have. It means that those who make more money contribute a bit more to the common good—so we can have good schools, good roads without potholes and good health care for everyone.
I do Housing Justice Institutes around the US and I could list for you over 50 good policies that we could pass that would redistribute resources enabling us to live affordably. But these won’t get passed unless we also have political power.
What does it mean to redistribute political power? Example: the Golden Globes—famous movies stars used their stardom and fame to invite key leaders of movements that are seeking to bring justice to our world—to stand with them when they came to the Golden Globe ceremony. Suddenly those who have struggled to have a voice are now in the lime light—and now being interviewed by newspapers across the US.
The movie stars like MLK used their power to make change. How are you using your power to create change? Do you know you have power?
I want to tell you about my friend, David Hartsough…he deserves to win the Noble Peace Prize for his lifelong comment to waging peace with nonviolence. He was a friend of MLK and part of the struggle for civil rights 50 years ago.
My husband and I have had the honor of staying in his home in San Francisco. He gave us a copy of a book about his life. I want you to listen carefully as I read the story that opens his book:


It was 1960, and I was twenty years old. I was sitting on a stool at the lunch counter of the ironically named People’s Drug Store in Arlington, VA, along with ten African American classmates from Howard Univesity. The voice I heard was laced with venom, and the eyes of the speaker were filled with hate. He was threatening to thrust his knife—the blad just inches away from me—through my heart
           
What would you do? What kind of power do you have? What kind love would you have for the one who might pull a knife on you for standing with those who are being despised and unwelcome?
Here’s what David said he did in response. First, he was meditating on the teachings of Jesus, who said: “Love your enemies… Do good to those who hate you.”
So David turned around and did his best to smile.
Looking him in the eyes, I said to him: “Friend, do what you believe is right, and I will still try to love you.” Both his jaw and his hand dropped. Miraculously, he turned away and walked out of the store.

What does it take to be prepared for this kind of a response in the face of violence? Incredible practice and discipline. This is the kind of Movement that MKL and his leaders taught and this is what we need today.
I want to close with a another story and a charge to us all to be involved in the new emerging poor people’s campaign today—50 years later.
But first the story. At the MLK event several years ago at the Jackie Robinson Park, I heard Nicole Brown, 11 years old read her award winning essay. It was all about MLKs vison for housing and ending homelessness and Nicole’s’ broken heart when she saw a homeless person.
I approached Nicole after the event and asked if she would be willing to share her essay at the City Council. We were trying to get a housing commission for the city and her essay would help us.
I asked her parents, and they said they would support anything that Nicole wanted. So her whole family showed up at the City Hall to support her. When it was time to read her essay she went just over the 3 minutes allowed, but they turned off the red light and allowed to finish her beautiful speech. The Council members listened intently because they rarely have an 11 year old speak. They were taking photos of her from the chambers and posting them.
When she finished, she said, I hear one of the reasons that you don’t have a housing commission is because it is too expensive. I won $250 for my essay contest and I would like to give it to you.
They were speechless as was everyone in the Council Chambers that day. Finally John Kennedy, one of our elected council member and vice mayor stood up and spoke to everyone, “why does it take an 11 year old to teach us what we all should be doing?”
What kind of political power is this? Nicole shared what she had. Her time, her passion, her essay, her winnings and her heart.
What will we share that we have? And will be disciplined and prepared to share it in a nonviolent way like David Hartsough who choose to love in the face of violence when he took a stand for what was unpopular but right?
Now the charge: The Revival of Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is uniting tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality.
We need you to step up and join our efforts.
Thank you for allowing me to share with you today about Martin Luther King, David Hartsough and Nicole Brown. May we go forth and be encourage and follow in the footsteps of these shining example to help lead our path. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

An Open Letter to the Pasadena City Council on the beating of Christopher Ballew

Christopher Ballew and his mother Sonya
Several months ago, Christopher Ballew was driving up north Fair Oaks when the Pasadena police noticed  that 1) he had tinted windows on his car and no license plate in front and 2) he was a young black man. They followed his car into Altadena to a gasoline station and when he got out of his car, they approached him about this infraction. What happened immediately after this is unclear, but videos reveal that this incident soon escalated. The police tried to arrest and handcuff him, he demanded to speak to their commanding officer, and they demanded that he get onto the ground and be handcuffed. During a scuffle, the arresting officers told him to "give us your fucking hands." They pulled out batons to beat him and soon he was on the ground, his face pushed against the concrete and bleeding. He grabbed the baton to avoid being beaten and the officer pulled it away. His fellow officer pointed a cocked gun at Ballew while the officer beat him with a baton and broke his leg. Ballew was unarmed and is heard screaming with pain and begging them to stop. "What did I do?" See Ballew beating

The police charged him with felony assault and resisting arrest, and that probably would have ended the matter. However, a month later, a video was posted on social media showing the Pasadena police beating Ballew. The video went viral. Because the incident occurred in LA county, the County DA examined the case and dismissed charges "due to lack of evidence."

It seems clear that Ballew was not assaulting the police, but vice versa.
Only one pastor spoke out for justice:
Mike Kinman of All Saints Episcopal Church!


This has been called Pasadena's "Rodney King moment." The police were out of control when they assaulted Ballew, shouting obscenities as they beat him, yet the City Council is in denial. The City Manager accused Ballew of "resisting arrest" twice during the previous Council Meeting. Now he is letting the police conduct an internal investigation, and we are told to wait patiently for the outcome, but the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Police cannot police themselves. They will undoubtedly acquit the officers, just as they did with the officers who killed Kendrec McDade and R.J. Thomas. Only an independent review will be credible.

Ballew's family is conducting a law suit, which seems to nbe the only thing that the City Council understands or takes seriously. At the ACUL office this week I heard their attorney present the case and it's very clear and irrefutable, especially when you see the video.  The Ballews will easily win their case, the City will make another big settlement, and the police will probably be let off scott-free. That's how Pasadena handles these matters. It's a "cost of doing police business."


Jasmine Abdullah Richards was a powerful voice
for Black Lives Matter
Hundreds of people stormed City Council to demand justice--to demand an apology to the family, that the police who beat Ballew be suspended until their case is tried, and that there be an independent police auditor with subpoena powers to investigate cases like this. Public comment went on for nearly two hours. It was a moment of truth for Pasadena. Will racial profiling and police violence continue? Or will the Council finally do something about it? See Pasadena Now article.


So many came to protest that many had to stand outside or go to the overflow room. 


Here is my open letter to the City Council:

Dear Mayor and City Councilmembers,

I hope you got the message that the community is appalled and outraged by the behavior of police, not only the beating of an unarmed African American man but its efforts to cover up and justify its actions. Pastor Mike Kinman, community leaders and neighbors spoke out loud and clear about the need for police accountability, but did you really hear us?

Mayor Tornek and the City Council members were cautious and did not show any concern for the feelings of the family. Even though the DA refused to press charges against Christopher Ballew due to “insufficient evidence,” the Council acted as if there is still doubt that the police acted improperly. It is clear to anyone seeing the video that Ballew was brutally beaten by police who were out of control, using obscenities as they beat him. An officer screamed, “Give me you fucking hand.” At a gathering this week in the ACLU office, Mr. Ballew’s lawyer calmly laid out his case that the police violated procedures numerous times. This horrific video has tarnished the reputation of Pasadena police in the eyes of the world, and of the community.

Yet the Mayor and City Council were for the most cautious. None expressed sympathy to the family who were seating in the Council chamber. No one apologized for the behavior of police. Ironically, this Council meeting took place just before our City celebrates Martin Luther King Day. What would Dr. King say? In his 1968 sermon at Riverside Church, Dr. King said, “Silence is betrayal.” Dr King pointed out that those who remain silent in the face of injustice are complicit.

City Councilmember Tyron Hampton showed that he heard us and had the moral courage to speak out for fairness. He said that the officers should be taken off duty until an investigation is complete—which (as I pointed out) would happen if a teacher was accused of harming a student.  Why can’t a police officer be taken off duty in a similar fashion? Why is the public not being protected from police who commit acts of violence that the public regards as unwarranted?

Hampton called for firing officers if they acted out of compliance with police procedures. And he said something even more telling: if these officers are in compliance with police procedures, then those procedures need to change.
I agree with Councilmember John Kennedy that there needs to be education around racial issues, but the problem also requires action.

The Mayor counseled patience, but we know from past experience what that means. The City pays out damages to those who are victims of police violence, hoping to silence them, and then exonerates the police. This is what happened with Kendrec McDade and will probably happen with Ballew unless there is sufficient public outcry that our elected officials listen.

The Mayor also called for better “communication” but in doing so, he sounded to me like the captain in “Cool Hand Luke” who beats up a prisoner and then says, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

This is not a PR problem, a failure to communicate, it is an issue of trust and accountability. The black and Hispanic community don’t trust the police, and for good reason. Many of us who are white and privileged and seek to be allies with the black community see only too clearly that the police are becoming increasingly militarized and some (not all) police are dangerous. It has been rightly pointed out that not all police are bad apples, but almost all police defend bad apples, no matter how rotten their actions.

This video shows that our police department cannot be trusted.  Before this video surfaced, the police charged Christopher Ballew with felony assault and resisting arrest. Once the video appeared on social media, and the County DA had a chance to review it, those charges were dropped against Ballew. The video makes it clear to those who are willing to see that the police are the ones committing assault, not Ballew. It is also clear that the police department was covering up its actions until they were revealed on social media.

The community of Northwest Pasadena has zero confidence that the police can police themselves. From the comments we heard from police, we know that they defend their own, no matter what. I’m afraid that seems to be true of most City Councilmembers.

That’s why we urgently need real police accountability, we need an independent police auditor with subpoena powers able to hold our police department accountable when its members commit outrageous acts of violence against citizens they are supposed to serve and protect.

I brought to the City Council a petition signed by members of my Quaker meeting. As Quakers, we oppose all forms of violence, including police violence, and regard each person as sacred, deserving of fair and respectful treatment.  Diane Randall, the executive director of our national Quaker lobby, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, spoke out powerfully in favor of Black Lives Matter and police accountability. She said: “At the federal, state and local levels, our elected officials and the leadership of our police departments need to hear from us. They need to hear the voices of tens of thousands of people who support them, who care for them, who want them to do their jobs with fairness, with equality, with justice for all.”


“Equality and justice for all.” That’s what we pledged allegiance to when we stood and faced the flag at the beginning of this City Council session. It is time for the City Council to make good on that pledge. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How It Came to Pass that Jesus Visited Our Home A Week Before Christmas


Here’s how it “came to pass” that Jesus visited our humble home in Northwest Pasadena on Monday night, a week before Christmas. Since last June I have been visiting detainees at Adelanto Detention Center, a privately run facility in the high desert near Victorville that houses nearly two thousand undocumented men and women who are incarcerated simply for lacking proper papers. Yesterday I got a call from Liza, one of the organizers of these visits to Adelanto, asking if my wife and I would be willing to house a young man recently released on bail.
 "I'll have to ask my wife but I don't think she'll mind," I said. "What's his name?"
“Jesús,” Liza replied.
“Wow,” I said. “How could we not let Jesus visit our home on Christmas!”
 Jesús turned out to be a tall, slim, quiet young man from a Latin American country. He crossed the border in 2015. He was straightaway placed as an unaccompanied minor into a California Youth Authority facility.  On his 18th birthday this past October, he was immediately transferred to adult detention.
Adelanto Detention Center is run by private business entity called GEO that has a contract with ICE. Currently there are quotas: the government guarantees to GEO that they will provide minimum 1,455 detainees to be housed at a cost of $111.92 per detainee, per day and any additional detainees will be housed at a cost of $50 per detainee per day. See https://indivisiblemb.org/2017/07/24/adelanto-abuse-of-immigrants-in-detention-for-profit/
GEO’s mission is the opposite of Jesus’s. When Jesus first proclaimed his mission in the town of Nazareth, he told his townspeople that he had come to proclaim “release to the prisoners.” GEO profits from incarcerating as many people as possible.
We welcomed Jesús into our home by offering him cookies and tea. When we learned that the celebration of his 18th birthday took place in detention, we also brought him some cake left over from our Christmas party and lit a candle for him to blow out and make a wish. When we sang “Happy Birthday,” he was all smiles. Since he is a Christian, we gave him a Spanish/English Bible, for which he was very grateful.
That evening he showered and settled down to sleep in a comfortable bed for the first time in over a year, wrapped in a cozy comforter made by my wife’s grandmother. Ours was the first home he stayed in since arriving in the US. For nearly two years, he slept in a noisy, institutional environment. 
We made huevos rancheros for breakfast and lots of coffee (which Jesús stated was unavailable in Adelanto).  Jesús also described his meals: for breakfast two tiny pancakes (no butter or syrup) and a small carton of milk. For lunch, beans and rice or spaghetti, and for dinner, leftovers. In one month, he lost five kilos (11 pounds). He was grateful for our food and also for the fresh air and sunlight when took him on a tour of our garden and he picked a pomegranate and fresh oranges from our trees. He loved this home-cooked breakfast with fresh fruit. It was his first taste of freedom.
Jesús isn’t totally free, however. He has to wear a gps-enabled ankle bracelet to track his movements. This system has been in effect since 2014 as a way to save ICE money. Using this tracking device costs around $3.50 per day. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gps-ankle-bracelets-used-to-track-immigrants-caught-at-border/
We learned that Jesús’s dad was a construction worker (much like Joseph, the father of Jesus, who was a carpenter). Believe it or not, the parents of our visitor Jesús was named José and his mother’s name María!
These parallels reminded me of what Jesus said about himself in Matthew 25:36: “You visited me when I was in prison….As you do for the least of these, you do it for me.”  As I reflected on this message, I felt deeply honored and a sense of awe to provide hospitality to this young man who is made in the image of the Divine.  
Much like my Greek father, who jumped ship in 1923 when he was fourteen and there was a quota preventing all but a handful of Greeks from entering the US legally) and like tens of thousands of other immigrants, Jesús wants to better himself. And I have a feeling he will succeed. He was very polite, offered to do dishes, and made his bed. He was an exemplary guest. We couldn’t help but think of what Paul said of guests in Hebrews 13: 2-3: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.  Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
As we waited for Liza to pick Jesús up after breakfast, we asked if he’d like to join us for our morning Bible study using a bilingual Bible. He was happy to take part. We read the story of Jesus’s birth in Luke 4 in Spanish. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was under occupation by the Roman empire and ruled by a Roman puppet king. Immediately after his birth, Jesus’s parents had to flee their home country and became refugees in Egypt. For this reason, Jesus always had a special place in his heart for those who are displaced and homeless.
After our Bible study, we took a selfie of the three of us and sent it to his family. He then called to let them know that he was out of prison and in good hands. He has had very few opportunities to talk with his family since being detained. After connecting with his family, he looked radiant.
Liza arrived and took him to a shelter where he will be cared for and given opportunities to develop into a successful adult, so we are hopeful about his future.
We felt blessed by this visitor, and also by Liza, the dedicated woman who cared for Jesús as if he were her own son. Our visitation program affiliates with an organization called CIVIC, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement.    According to its website, “CIVIC is  devoted to abolishing U.S. immigration detention, while ending the isolation of people currently suffering in this profit-driven system. We visit and monitor 43 facilities and run the largest national hotline for detained immigrants. Through these windows into the system, we gather data and stories to combat injustice at the individual level and push systemic change.” If you want to learn how you can help people like Jesús, check out:  http://www.endisolation.org/

Jesús visitó nuestra casa en Pasadena una semana antes de Navidad: la historia de un menor no acompañado


Así es como sucedió que Jesús visitó nuestra humilde casa en Northwest Pasadena el lunes por la noche, una semana antes de Navidad. Desde el pasado mes de junio he estado visitando a detenidos en el Centro de Detención Adelanto, una instalación privada en el desierto cercano a Victorville que alberga a casi dos mil hombres y mujeres indocumentados que están encarcelados simplemente por carecer de documentos adecuados. Ayer recibí una llamada de Liza, uno de los organizadores de estas visitas a Adelanto, en la que me preguntaba si mi esposa y yo estaríamos dispuestos a albergar a un joven recientemente liberado bajo fianza.

 "Tendré que preguntarle a mi esposa, pero no creo que le importe", le dije. "¿Cual es su nombre?"

"Jesús", respondió Liza.

"Wow", dije. "¡Cómo no dejar que Jesús visite nuestra casa en Navidad!"

 Jesús resultó ser un joven alto, delgado y callado de un país latinoamericano. Cruzó la frontera en 2015. Fue colocado de inmediato como un menor no acompañado en una instalación de la Autoridad Juvenil de California. En su cumpleaños número 18, el pasado octubre, fue inmediatamente trasladado a detención de adultos

El Centro de Detención Adelanto es administrado por una entidad comercial privada llamada GEO que tiene un contrato con ICE. Actualmente existen cupos: el gobierno garantiza a GEO que proporcionarán un mínimo de 1,455 detenidos a un costo de $ 111.92 por detenido, por día y cualquier otro detenido será alojado a un costo de $ 50 por detenido por día. Ver https://indivisiblemb.org/2017/07/24/adelanto-abuse-of-immigrants-in-detention-for-profit/

La misión de GEO es lo opuesto a la de Jesús. Cuando Jesús proclamó por primera vez su misión en la ciudad de Nazaret, les dijo a sus vecinos que había venido a proclamar "liberación a los prisioneros". GEO se beneficia al encarcelar a tanta gente como sea posible.

Le dimos la bienvenida a Jesús en nuestra casa ofreciéndole galletas y té. Cuando nos enteramos de que la celebración de su 18º cumpleaños era esencialmente un paso inseguro hacia la edad adulta, también le trajimos un pastel de nuestra fiesta de Navidad y le encendimos una vela soplar y pedir un deseo. Cuando cantamos "Feliz cumpleaños", él era todo sonrisas. Como él es cristiano, le dimos una Biblia en español / inglés, por la cual él estaba muy agradecido.

Esa noche se duchó y se acomodó para dormir en una cómoda cama por primera vez en más de un año, envuelto en un cómodo edredón hecho por la abuela de mi esposa. La nuestra fue la primera casa en la que se hospedó desde que llegó a los Estados Unidos. Durante casi dos años, durmió en un ambiente ruidoso e institucional.

Hicimos huevos rancheros para el desayuno y mucho café (que según Jesús no estaba disponible en Adelanto). Jesús también describió sus comidas: para el desayuno dos pequeños panqueques (sin jarabe) y un pequeño cartón de leche. Para el almuerzo y la cena, frijoles y arroz. En un mes, perdió cinco kilos (11 libras). Estaba agradecido no solo por la comida sino por el aire fresco y la luz del sol. Lo llevamos en un recorrido por nuestro jardín, donde recogió una granada y naranjas frescas de nuestros árboles. Adoraba este desayuno casero. Fue su primer contacto con la libertad.

Jesús no es totalmente libre, sin embargo. Él tiene que usar un brazalete de tobillo habilitado para gps para rastrear sus movimientos. Este sistema ha estado en vigor desde 2014 como una forma de ahorrar dinero ICE. El uso de este dispositivo de rastreo cuesta alrededor de $ 3.50 por día frente a un costo promedio de $ 119 por día para la detención. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gps-ankle-bracelets-used-to-track-immigrants-caught-at-border/

Aprendimos que el padre de Jesús era un trabajador de la construcción (muy parecido al padre de su homónimo, que era carpintero) y ese también es el oficio de Jesús. ¡Créalo o no, el nombre de su padre es José y el nombre de su madre es María! Nos acordábamos de lo que Jesús dijo acerca de servir a otros en Mateo 25:36: "Me visitaste cuando estaba en la cárcel ... Como haces por el menor de estos, lo haces por mí". Al reflexionar sobre este mensaje, nos sentimos profundamente honrados y con un sentido de asombro al brindar hospitalidad a este joven que está hecho a la imagen de lo Divino.

Al igual que mi padre griego, que abandonó el barco en 1923 cuando tenía catorce años y había una cuota que impedía que todos salvo un puñado de griegos ingresaran a los EE. UU. Legalmente) y, como decenas de miles de otros inmigrantes, Jesús quiere superarse a sí mismo. Y tengo la sensación de que tendrá éxito. Fue muy educado, se ofreció a lavar los platos e hizo su cama. Fue un invitado ejemplar. No pudimos evitar pensar en lo que Pablo dijo de los invitados en Hebreos 13: 2-3: "No se olvide de mostrar hospitalidad a los extraños, porque al hacerlo, algunas personas han mostrado su hospitalidad a los ángeles sin saberlo. Continúa recordando a los que están en prisión como si estuvieras junto a ellos en prisión, y a aquellos que son maltratados como si ustedes mismos estuvieran sufriendo ".

Mientras esperábamos a que Liza recogiera a Jesús, le preguntamos si le gustaría unirse a nosotros para nuestro estudio bíblico matutino usando una Biblia bilingüe. Él estaba feliz de participar. Leemos la historia del nacimiento de Jesús en Lucas 4 en español.Cuando Jesús nació en Belén, estaba bajo la ocupación del imperio romano y gobernado por un rey títere romano. Inmediatamente después de su nacimiento, los padres de Jesús tuvieron que huir de su país de origen y se convirtieron en refugiados en Egipto. Por esta razón, Jesús siempre tuvo un lugar especial en su corazón para aquellos que están desplazados y sin hogar.

Después de nuestro estudio de la Biblia, tomamos una selfie de nosotros tres y se la enviamos a su familia. Luego llamó para avisarles que estaba fuera de la prisión y en buenas manos. Él ha tenido muy pocas oportunidades de hablar con su familia desde que fue encarcelado. Después de conectarse con su familia, se veía radiante.

Liza llegó y lo llevó a un refugio donde lo atenderán y le darán oportunidades para convertirse en un adulto exitoso, por lo que esperamos su futuro.

Nos sentimos bendecidos por este visitante, y también por Liza, la mujer dedicada que cuidaba a Jesús como si fuera su propio hijo. Nuestro programa de visitas se afilia a una organización llamada CIVIC, Iniciativas Comunitarias para Visitar a Inmigrantes en Confinamiento. Según su sitio web, "CIVIC se dedica a abolir la detención de inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos, al tiempo que pone fin al aislamiento de las personas que actualmente sufren en este sistema basado en las ganancias. Visitamos y controlamos 43 instalaciones y contamos con la línea directa nacional más grande para inmigrantes detenidos. A través de estas ventanas en el sistema, reunimos datos e historias para combatir la injusticia a nivel individual e impulsar el cambio sistémico ". Si desea aprender cómo puede ayudar a personas como Jesús, visite: http://www.endisolation.org /

2017 Christmas Newsletter: Peace on Earth and Justice for All


“I shall speak thy testimony before Kings and not be ashamed…” –Psalm 119:46



Jill and I with Rep Judy Chu and Tim Root
 of Whittier Friends Church
Anthony: This phrase sums up a year in which I have been helping people to share their moral concerns with elected officials. The good news is that so many people are stepping forward, eager to learn how to practice democracy and work for a society that is fair and compassionate. I am especially grateful to the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), which has launched a national campaign (Love Your Neighbor, No Exceptions) to teach people how to be effective faith-based advocates for peace and justice. This work is not only necessary but also joyful since it involves working with wonderful people. I continue to be on the board of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace and serve as chair of the Palm Sunday Peace Parade. In addition to my peace activism, I am part of a weekly men’s group at the Episcopal Church and have monthly visits with an Episcopal monk named Dennis Gibbs who is my spiritual director. I also enjoy partnering with Jill on her housing justice work. As Jill and I celebrate our 6th year of married life together, I want to express my deep appreciation to a wonderful couple named Sylvester and Carolyn Williams, who led us on twelve “marriage mentoring” sessions  that have enhanced our marriage in countless ways. I am excited that the Palm Sunday Peace Parade (where Jill and I met) have decided to support a revival of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign 50 years after his death. Our slogan is “Proclaim Good News to the Poor” (Luke 4:18). God has truly blessed us and confirmed that “the Prince of Peace has brought us together for a purpose greater than either of us can imagine.”


Wishing you all the best during this blessed season! May your upcoming year be full of joy as well as justice and peace! 


Jill: Some of my fondest memories this year are the two weekly Bible studies during our “staff time” with my husband and again with Mark, who was formerly homeless and now lives in our back house. The intriguing insights we glean and the fun we have applying the Scripture to today’s world fills my soul. It also fills my soul when I look out at our little “faith park” and see kids looking for books in the tiny library and hanging out on our park bench or hammock, enjoying themselves. Sharing what we have with neighbors gives me great pleasure. Often conversations turn to the love of Christ.

Jill with Lorinda
At this stage of my life God keeps confirming my gift as a teacher enabling churches to address their city around the need for more affordable housing. The One-day Housing Justice Institutes have had great results in Colorado. In Broomfield, the City Council, once against affordable housing, is now fully supportive. The city has come out of denial about homelessness in their city. The person hired to run their housing authority is finally being given work and Section 8 vouchers for those in need. When I was there in March to do another housing justice institute with leaders throughout the Metro-Denver area, one Broomfield City Council member who was planning to leave the City Council to do a PhD changed her mind when she heard me share about the history of housing policy in our nation. Additionally, two churches have broken ground to build affordable housing.

Christmas Newslette
Jill with Amy


I stand in awe of how God has opened these doors. My heart longed to see these Institutes take place in California where the housing crisis is sIt has also been a joy to have Amy Cardenas work with me part time to keep my office organized. I met Amy 20 years ago when I It has also berecruited her for STARS—an afterschool program at Lake Ave Church I had the joy of co-founding.  She’s about to graduate from APU in sociology!

 To keep not just my soul but my body nourished and in good shape, I feel spoiled by Anthony’s incredible cooking. I was in much pain with my lower back and thanks to prayer, aqua-therapy and ongoing exercise, all my pain is gone! I had a biopsy for possible cancer (in my buttock!) and thank God, nothing was found. I thank God for the good health!

Some 2017 Highlights

January: We took part in Pasadena’s annual homeless count. Jill was asked to give the fund-raising pitch for  college scholarships for the Martin Luther King event sponsored by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.
February: We went to “Motown: the Musical” at the Pantages Theater to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Fabulous!
March: Jill led a Housing Justice Institute in Colorado. Anthony attended a gathering in Stonypoint, NY, where over 120 Quakers from North and South America, of very diverse theological backgrounds, took part in worship and fellowship to help strengthen the Quaker community
.April: This year’s Palm Sunday Peace Parade, which we helped organize, had as its theme Affordable Housing and Ending Homelessness. Hundreds walked in the Parade to celebrate Jesus as the Prince of Peace and the things that bring peace.

Jill's brother Doug, visiting from Australia  in our Faith Park with Jill
May: Anthony celebrated his 68th birthday by throwing a party at our El Greco Café and by taking Jill to the Getty Villa where he first proposed marriage six years ago (and she said yes!!). He also helped organize an immigrant rights workshop with Pedro Rios at Orange Grove Quaker Meeting in keeping with the Biblical injunction to “treat foreigners as native born” (Leviticus 19:34).
June: Jill organized the Homeless-to-Housed Bus Tour. Anthony visited detainees in Adelanto Detention Center (near San Bernardino), where undocumented people are being incarcerated, in keeping with Matthew 25 (“I was in prison and you visited me”), 
Jill with her brother Doug
June: Jill organized the Homeless-to-Housed Bus Tour. Anthony visited detainees in Adelanto Detention Center (near San Bernardino), where undocumented people are being incarcerated, in keeping with Matthew 25 (“I was in prison and you visited me”),
Edward fiddling
August: We went to Oregon to see the solar eclipse, camped at Mt Rainier, and visited with friends and family along the way, including Anthony’s nephew Edward, who is an excellent fiddler. Anthony helped organize a Justice Luncheon with Rep. Judy Chu. We called for our elected officials to address the threat of nuclear war (as Jesus said, “those that live by the sword die by the sword”). He also led a retreat on “George Fox’s prophetic witness” for Santa Barbara Friends.
September: We attended the CCDA gathering in Detroit, where we got to see the remarkable “Cass Tiny Home” project initiated by the Methodists. Jill led Housing Justice Institutes in Temple City and one in Pasadena in November.




Us with our niece Jessie from Australia
October:  Jill’s brother Doug and niece Jessie visited from Australia. Thanks to the advocacy of a team from a neglected part of N. Fair Oaks, Pasadena voted to put in a $268,000 traffic signal and approved 7 of the 15 items we requested! We celebrated this win with Green Light Victory Celebration and a Repair Café.

At Ragged Point with Jill's mother Donna
November:  Jill celebrated her 64th birthday with a pumpkin-carving party. We went to DC for the annual Quaker lobby day and also visited Jill’s niece Annie and their new baby in Alexandria, VA, and Anthony’s sister and their new home in Hamilton Township, NJ. We celebrated Thanksgiving with our dear “Mamacita” Donna Shook at Ragged Point, the gorgeous gateway to Big Sur.






Your Help is Needed!

You may be part of my regular support team that has faithfully given for years… thank you!! Right now my support brings in about $1,000 a month--$2,000 per month shy of what is needed to increase hours of my part time help so that N. Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative can thrive,  the Housing Justice work can grow, and we can complete a video to promote these Institutes that will cost $3,000.  It is my goal that this work of organizing churches around issues that affect the most vulnerable will be multiplied with leaders equipped to do this work.
This Christmas I invite you to give and also set up monthly giving.
Contact: Missions Door
2530 Washington Street, Denver, CO 80205, Phone: 303-308-1818
www.missionsdoor.org/missionary/shook-jill/
Jill Shook & Anthony Manousos
1628 N. Garfield, Pasadena CA 91104
Jill’s Phone: 626-675-1316