Faith Action Network recognizes interfaith advocates
At the Faith Action Network's Nov. 10 Annual Dinners—one in Renton and one in Spokane—the organization recognized leaders who help bear witness to interfaith advocacy in the region.
The presentations and speaker at the Renton dinner for more than 450 were live streamed to Spokane for about 70 gathered at the Glover House. In Spokane, the Rev. Jim CastroLang, a member of FAN's statewide board presented two awards:
• The Interfaith Leadership Award was given to the Rev. Gen Heywood and Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience (FLLC).
• The Justice Leadership Award recognized the Yakima Immigrant Response Network, which supports immigrant communities in the Yakima Valley.
Gen, who is pastor of Veradale United Church of Christ (UCC), coordinates interfaith efforts to end racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation.
FLLC gathers people for Truthful Tuesday vigils, often outside Spokane Valley City Council meetings, to challenge Christian dominionism and white supremacy. It has held two Vigils for the Healing of the Earth to build awareness of environmental concerns related to the Midnite Mine, the Bunker Hill Mine and the proposed Newport Smelter.
FLLC writes letters to the editor, op-eds, letters to elected officials and public statements; creates interfaith dialogue; participates in panels, and has joined with Jewish and Muslim neighbors to grieve after shootings.
It formed in 2019 to support the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
Its participants include Atheists, Baha'is, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sufis, Unitarians, Unity and Wiccans. It connects with 350 Spokane, One Peace Many Paths, Silver Valley Community Resource Center, SHAWL Society, Spokane Riverkeeper, Tenants Union and Responsible Growth NE Washington.
"We seek justice, practice compassion and bear witness to a beloved community," Gen said.
FAN recognizes Yakima Immigrant Response Network
Since 2017, the Yakima Immigrant Response Network (YIRN) has organized volunteers to support immigrant communities in the Yakima Valley in response to anti-immigrant rhetoric that stirs fear and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flights that transport asylum seekers from the border through Yakima to the ICE Processing Center in Tacoma and sends detainees to the Mexican border for deportation.
YIRN mobilizes community members to be present at a public viewing area at the Airport Maintenance Shop at 3106 W. Washington as weekly flights arrive at the Yakima Airport.
Detainees who arrive on the Swift Air flights from El Paso, Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas, or World Atlantic Airlines flights from San Antonio, are bused to the private, for-profit prison in Tacoma called the Northwest ICE Processing Center (formerly the Northwest Detention Center) run by the GEO Group.
FAN recognized YIRN for mobilizing response to the flights. Danielle Surkatty and Mick Nelson Janke accepted the award.
YIRN supports immigrant communities through Know Your Rights presentations, rapid response, family safety packets and workshops, employer rights and outreach, promoting the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network Hotline, Raid Verification Observer Training, accompaniment, advocacy, and networking.
Between May 7 and Nov. 15, YIRN organized vigils for 39 ICE air flights at the Yakima airport as more than 2,875 immigrants have climbed the airplane steps in ankle shackles and wrists handcuffed to a chain around their waists.
YIRN tracks flights, raises awareness, generates solidarity and advocates change, said Jim presenting the award. "They let immigrants know they are not alone."
Detainees are about 80 percent men, 20 percent women and mostly Hispanic, but also Africans, Asians and Middle-Easterners.
Danielle said corporations profit and tax dollars pay for the deportations and detention.
ICE began chartering flights through Yakima after fixed base operators at Boeing Field in Seattle stopped servicing the flights, following an order by King County's Dow Constantine. ICE transports fewer people through Yakima than they did through Boeing Field. Airports in Bellingham, Everett and Portland refused to allow the flights.
In Renton, FAN recognized Tony Lee, a champion for advocacy with the Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington Association of Churches (FAN's predecessor) and FAN, with a Legacy Award.
The Rev. Harriett Walden received the Justice Leadership Award for decades of leadership for police accountability, co-founding Mothers for Police Accountability in 1990 and leadership on the Seattle Community Police Commission.
Seattle First Baptist Church received the Advocating Faith Leaders and Faith Community Award for 150 years of public witness for inclusion and spiritually-formed justice, standing with immigrants during the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, walking with Japanese in internment in 1942, supporting LGBTQ communities, standing with the Duwamish Tribe, advocating for civil rights, interfaith connection and peace.
The keynote speaker was the Rev. Priscilla Paris-Austin of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Seattle, "a reconciling in Christ, open and affirming, aspiring to be anti-racist and identifying as a sanctuary church."
Her diverse ethnic, political, theological and economic family heritage motivates her work for racial equity through education, action and advocacy. Her mother's philosophy is there are no strangers, "just family we have not met," she said. "My family taught me to participate in democracy as a right and responsibility.
By Nov. 15, donors in Renton, Spokane and online raised $65,000, beyond a $50,000 matching grant.
For information, call 206-625-9790 or visit fanwa.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, December, 2019