Every month for the past two years, members of Winchester’s Parish of the Epiphany, along with other faith groups, have gathered at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Boston and Burlington to pray, sing, and hold signs of support for the detainees. From inside the building, the detainees pressed signs against the windows, saying “thank you” and “we love you,” acknowledging parishioners’ presence.
But the social justice work of the Parish of the Epiphany isn’t limited to immigration; neither is it new--the Winchester church has been active in social justice work since the 1960s.
In June, the parish’s long commitment to social justice was recognized with an award from the Episcopal City Mission, a faith-based organization that works with local groups on social and economic justice projects. The award, called the M. Thomas Shaw Award for Social and Economic Justice, pays tribute to the legacy and justice work of Rev. Thomas Shaw, a former bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts who died in 2014 of cancer. The previous recipients of the award are the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mattapan, Diocese of Massachusetts Creation Care, Boston Warm Day Centers, and Grace Episcopal Church in Medford.
“It was so moving and such an honor,” said Rosalyn Nazzaro, Winchester resident and one of the Epiphany parishioners who accepted the award. “All people in our church have earned this award.”
Later this month, the parish of the Epiphany is carrying on what now has become a monthly ritual. On Sept. 29, the Epiphany members, along with other faith and civic groups in Winchester, will hold a prayer vigil at the ICE detention center in Boston, sponsored by the Mass Communities Action Network. Local groups such as Winchester Multicultural Network, the First Congregational Church, the Winchester Unitarian Society, and Shir Tikvah will participate in the vigil.