Retired pastor Rev. Douglas Norris and his wife, Ellie, lead the Bible, Beliefs and Beyond Journeys class at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church, 4455 E Lincoln Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253, nearly every Sunday morning at 11 am. In January, they were discussing the flood of asylum seekers to Phoenix and how churches are getting involved. While PVUMC isn’t part of the network of downtown churches currently accepting busloads of refugees from countries like Guatemala and Nicaragua, they contacted one of these churches to see how they could help.
“Almost all of the ‘seekers’ are from Guatemala and are humble, gentle people,” said Rev. Norris.
By January 27, 2019, PVUMC had put out the call to the congregation about how they could help Monte Vista Cross-Cultural Church at 2406 N 36th Street, Phoenix, AZ. Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Dave Summers announced in worship that Sunday about Monte Vista’s need for diapers, clean socks and underwear for the overwhelming number of asylum seekers dropped off at that church every Monday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Sometimes, there are as many as 200 and the church only gets one day’s notice to prepare. A visiting faith group provides the meals.
If you would like to donate needed items, please bring them to the Bible, Beliefs and Beyond classroom F5/6 in the PVUMC Fellowship Center on Sundays.
Sue and Cash Beechler have volunteered to deliver any donations to that church. Please contact PVUMC’s Finance office to make a monetary donation or contact Monte Vista directly, Pastor Angel Campos, 480.450.6062. The seekers stay with host families or at the church for a night or two before taking a bus to meet relatives who are already in the United States. The church is looking for host families as well as rides from the church to bus stations and airports. The church facilities are strained with the increased plumbing needs and utility bills, Rev. Norris says, and vandals are attacking the church by breaking windows.
Pastor Campos and his church have been featured in two ABC news segments:
ABC News reported that some of the other churches and faith-based groups involved in this work include Central Christian Church of Arizona, Casa de Oracion, Catholic Community Services of Arizona, Shadow Rock United Church of Christ and First Congregational United Church of Christ. There are many more but organizers ask those who would like to help to reach out to one of these churches for information. The news agency also reported that an account had been set up at Wells Fargo Bank for donations.