Acting on Behalf of Our Neighbors: A Letter from President Richardson

June 25, 2018

Dear CDSP community:

On Friday, we concluded this year’s summer intensive program, during which 56 of our students came to campus for two weeks of classes, worship, and formation. This summer session anchors our low-residence MDiv and Certificate of Anglican Studies programs, where students build relationships and spiritual disciplines that they continue all year via online learning and formation.

This year, summer intensive took place as news about the separation of children and parents on our southern border unfolded. This moral crisis in our nation brought fresh urgency to our prayer, liturgy, and theological discussions. Here at CDSP, we find our story as people of faith in the scriptures that tell us of God’s people who were strangers in a strange land. These scriptures command us not only to love and care for those who come among us from outside our borders, but also to repent of our government’s willingness to “sacrifice thousands to an uncertain fate in our self-made altar of protection and safety,” as MDiv student Daniel Pinell ’19 put it in a recent sermon in All Saints Chapel.

Daniel was once himself undocumented. Today he leads prayer vigils at an immigrant detention facility nearby. In his sermon, he went on to say, “Now, to those of us privileged enough to be sitting here without fear of deportation or living in the shadows, it is not my purpose to instill guilt in your hearts. But are we asking the question, Why me, Lord? Why am I so privileged? I hope you look back at history straight in the eye and ask of it the reason of why we stand in privilege while others stand in misery.”

Here in the East Bay, we are every day aware of the blessings that accrue to our communities and our nation from a rich diversity of immigrant communities and congregations. Now is the time for those of us who have the privilege of documented citizenship to acknowledge our privilege and act on behalf of our neighbors, friends, and fellow children of God who find themselves in peril. Here are some actions I hope you will consider:

  • The Rev. Winnie Varghese, director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City, joined us for intersession as the St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry. For those who want to join my office in making financial contributions to support work with immigrants at the border, she recommends RAICES, which provides legal services to immigrants in Texas, and Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley
  • The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations has assembled online resources on the crisis unfolding now at the border and an online form for writing to your members of Congress to let them know your Christian perspective on families seeking asylum.
  • If you are traveling to the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, which takes place from July 5-13 in Austin, Texas, I hope you will consider joining CDSP students and staff at a prayer vigil at the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, on Sunday, July 8 at noon. You can learn more online.

Thank you for making CDSP a community that stands with the immigrants and refugees whom Christ has commanded us to love.


The Rev. Dr. W. Mark Richardson
President and Dean