The Unitarian Universalist church of Utica has released the following content to The Utica Phoenix:
Statement delivered by Reverend Karen Brammer, minister Unitarian Universalist Church of Utica, on Thursday May 25, 2023 at a press conference. Rev Brammer was accompanied by fellow Utica religious leaders asking County Executive Anthony Piscente Jr. to reconsider his position on asylum seekers.
“This is a response to the declaration of Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente that this county will not accept those seeking asylum as New York City overflows with people in acute need of safety. Not until we are “prepared”. It is critical to respond to this statement by our County Exec because his response projects overwhelm and instill anxiety and fear at a time when what is most needed is care and collaboration.
My faith – and most faith traditions at the root – require generosity to those in need and shelter to those seeking safety. Unitarian Universalism which I serve as minister clearly and continuously declares that we must “Side with Love”.
Mr. Picente blames other officials for knowing for a long time that “this was going to happen” and that sending refugees and immigrants to Utica was “not fair”. Mr. Picente ducks the reality that Utica officials have known for a long time as well, but chose to focus preparation elsewhere.
The County Exec does not speak for me, and I do not think he speaks for most of us. Most of us know that Utica is a better place due to the diversity and hard work of waves of immigrants who have made Utica their home. Most of us know that as climate change intensifies causing yet more scarcity and violence that there will be more massive evacuations and migrations. More refugees seeking asylum and safety. And we need to prepare by becoming more resilient.
Learning to be flexible and responsive (rather than reactive and guarding against people in need) is the world I want to live in. If officials “at the top” believe they alone must protect, then of course they will slam the doors. If instead, we turn to one another in community to figure out what we can do together to support others, collaborate with others – including those of us already slammed out of access to resources like Black, Indigenous and People of Color – then this will be a community we can be proud of.”
Other area religious leaders joining Reverend Brammer in solidarity were:
Reverend Mike Ballman, minister – Cornerstone Plymouth Bethesda Church, Utica
Rabbi Peter Schaktman – Temple Emanu-El, Utica
Rev Jill Farnham-Us – Interfaith Coalition of Greater Utica
Mr. Edward Walsh – Catholic Charities