By Bert Newton
Approximately 140 people marched in the 14th Pasadena Palm Sunday Peace Parade on Palm Sunday. The theme was “Peace Without Borders; Welcoming the Refugee.” Participants carried palm fronds and signs that read “welcome immigrants” and “welcome refugees” aimed at creating an atmosphere of hospitality for people fleeing violence in Central America and the Middle East. You can see a short video of the event here.
Some participants wore life vests to symbolize solidarity with refugees who risk their lives coming across the Mediterranean Sea on boats. Four of the marchers carried an inflatable kayak with a quote from Martin Luther King, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now,” on one side and “Welcome Refugees” on the other. One family pulled their small children in a toy wagon dressed up as a boat. Another marcher carried a fake torch in her hand and wore a sandwich board which read, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” in both Spanish and English
For the third year in a row, a Lady Wisdom puppet, representing the personified wisdom of God in the book of Proverbs, led the parade.
The keynote speaker was Robert Romero, UCLA professor of Asian and Chicano studies, immigration attorney, author of Jesus for Revolutionaries, and founder of Jesus for Revolutionaries Church. Parade participants were encouraged to get involved with The Sanctuary Movement, International Rescue Committee and other organizations serving and advocating for the needs of immigrants and refugees.
The march was sponsored by The Urban Village of Pasadena, Pasadena Mennonite Church, Reformation Church, Orange Grove Friends Meeting, Knox Presbyterian Church, Jesus for Revolutionaries Church, Crescenta Valley Methodist Church, Church for Others, All Saints Church, Progressive Christians Uniting, Montrose Peace Vigil, and Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.
At least two other Palm Sunday Peace Parades/Walks, inspired by the Pasadena march, were held across the country: one in Elkhart, IN and one in State College, PA.
Sixty-five people marched in the 6th annual Elkhart Palm Sunday Peace Parade which also focused on welcoming refugees. The march began at Hively Mennonite Church and ended at Elkhart Civic Plaza. The program began with music by the Goshen College Parables group and a short message by Lisa Koop, immigration attorney with the National Immigrant Justice Center and Michiana Immigration Coalition.
Over 100 people marched in the 1st annual State College Palm Sunday Peace Walk. Local faith leaders, including pastors from University Mennonite Church and the 3rd Way Collective organized the march. People from over 10 different local churches participated in the event. Acknowledging the many organizations that work for peace, the walk stopped at Community Help Centre, Women’s Resource Center, Housing Transitions, State College Police Department, Hearts for Homeless, and Penn State University.
Bert Newton is the author of Subversive Wisdom; Sociopolitical Dimensions of John’s Gospel