Trinity Episcopal Church, long one of Santa Barbara’s major power churches, is kicking off a four-part series designed to encourage a greater degree of inter-denominational soul searching on such matters as immigration, hunger, poverty, and climate change.
For many years, the congregation of Trinity Episcopal, located at 1500 State Street and Micheltorena Street, had played a central role in pushing various social justice campaigns, particularly on matters having to do with homelessness, gay rights, mental health, and criminal justice reform. In more recent years, the church has been less engaged in such pursuits, having experienced — among other things — pastoral turnover.
As part of an effort to re-engage, members of Trinity’s Justice and Outreach Council will invite religious leaders of other faiths and congregations to deliver the Sunday sermon over four weeks, in June and July, during the 8 and 10 a.m. services. Afterward, at 11:30 a.m., Trinity will be openings its doors to guest speakers.
This coming Sunday’s theme is “Immigrant Defense.” The guest religious leader delivering the sermon will be Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer, who will talk on the theme of “Welcoming New Neighbors.” Leading the discussion after the services are over will be Julissa Peña of the Immigrant Legal Defense Center. Peña will explain how the Defense Center has shifted its focus from providing legal help to those seeking to helping unaccompanied migrant children now facing deportation.
According to Peña, at least 1,000 children were released from custody to the Central Coast in the year 2021 alone. Even with sponsors, Peña noted, such children still face significant legal threats that could lead to their deportation. “There is an enormous lack of post-release services, such as legal representation, mental-health care, family integration and housing, education, and gang and violence prevention,” she said. With this series, the Justice and Outreach Council is hoping to pose the question, “How do we encourage local acts of justice in our community?”
The broader community is invited and encouraged to attend, not just members of the Trinity congregation. The setting is “casual and congenial” and “light refreshments” will be offered.