To Protect Migrants From Police, a Dutch Church Service Never Ends

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…[A] marathon church service, which started more than six weeks ago, and hasn’t stopped since, can never take a break.

Under an obscure Dutch law, the police may not disrupt a church service to make an arrest. And so for the past six weeks, immigration officials have been unable to enter Bethel Church to seize the five members of the Tamrazyan family, Armenian refugees who fled to the sanctuary to escape a deportation order.

The service, which began in late October as a little-noticed, last-gasp measure by a small group of local ministers, is now a national movement, attracting clergy members and congregants from villages and cities across the Netherlands. More than 550 pastors from about 20 denominations have rotated through Bethel Church, a nonstop service all in the name of protecting one vulnerable family.

Beautiful story of the Dutch church that’s been running a non-stop service (with over 500 pastors from various denominations contributing in shifts) for six weeks and counting in order to protect from deportation a family who’ve been taking refuge inside. The whole piece is well worth your time to read, but aside from the general joy and good feels that fill it, I was also impressed by how widely it’s inspired preachers to try things that are a little different:

Some preachers simply reuse services and sermons they gave at other churches. But others have used the opportunity to try something new, turning the church into a kind of greenhouse for liturgical experiments.

Ms. Israel read from a modern reinterpretation of the biblical story of King David and his wife Bathsheba, told from Bathsheba’s perspective. One minister incorporated meditative song into her service, and another interspersed prayers and hymns with sermons from Martin Luther King Jr. During one all-nighter, Mr. Stegeman even brought along a harpist.

Of course, let’s not forget that this is another one of those happy-news-stories-with-an-underlying-sad-story. Given that the family in question, according to the article, have successfully appealed against their deportation twice, and furthermore the duration of their stay so far should at least grant the children amnesty under Dutch law, it sounds like their deportation shouldn’t really be happening in the first place! It’s great that a community has come together to protect them, but wouldn’t a better happy story be if the country that’s supposed to be protecting them were doing so, instead, so that the community didn’t have to?

Still; a little cheer there, at least.