With news coming in from across the country regarding families being separated at the U.S. border, local community members saw it as the best time to bring people together.
The Families Belong Together and Free event will be held in the Dodge City Medical Center parking lot this Saturday at 11 a.m.
"People of faith from across southwest Kansas felt called to give witness to the fact that we follow the Lord Jesus who himself was a refugee fleeing for safety from a murderous power," said event co-organizer Rev. Robert Schremmer, Vicar General, Catholic Diocese of Dodge City. "As disciples of Jesus we feel compelled to take that Lord at his word that we are to welcome the stranger.
"As inheritors for the Hebrew Scriptures we are reminded: 'You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners.'"
The event comes on the heals of President Donald Trump signing an executive order on June 20 that halted the separating of families due to immigration status.
According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, parents were referred for prosecution and taken into federal custody while children were sent to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which then placed them with sponsors (such as family members), in shelters, or foster homes.
With a high number of migrant workers and families in southwest Kansas, the gathering on Saturday is to show that people of faith are in solidarity with those who seek asylum, said Schremmer.
During the event, "We will pray, lament, sing patriotic songs that speak of the best of America," said Schremmer. "We will witness to the message of Jesus: the Lord is the Lamb of God.
"He is the ultimate ‘scapegoat.'
"Jesus draws all those to himself who are vilified as the cause of all our problems and challenge those who are privileged in our society and yet see themselves as victims."
With most of the country divided on the issue of immigration, Schremmer hopes for a positive outcome of the event.
Schremmer spoke of an excerpt from the book Our Towns, by James and Deborah Fallow, regarding their visit to Southwest Kansas, quoting, "'… every single person we have spoken with — Anglo and Latino and other, old and young, native-born and immigrant, and so on down the list — every one of them has said, We need each other!'
'There is work in this community that we all need to do. We can choose to embrace the world, or we can fade and die. And we choose to embrace it. We need them. Without them, we would shrivel up. I can barely express how strongly I wish that anyone writing or opining about American 'nativism' or 'resentment' could come to a place like this (Southwest Kansas), and see real Americans of many backgrounds responding to real demographic change.
'We are better, still truer to ourselves, than some of our politics now suggests.'"
Schremmer added, "We wish to continue to give expression to this vision of who we are and what we are about."
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