Martha’s Vineyard church answered call to aid migrants: ‘We can take in all’ of them

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At least one group rallied on Martha’s Vineyard to help 50 migrants who touched down on the island for two nights – less than 48 hours apart – last week.

Unexpected visitors took refuge for two nights in the rectory hall of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Mass., and was looked after by its members.

Church warden Barbara Rush told Fox News Digital, “There were people who needed help and our church’s mission is to help those in need, which is what Christians are supposed to do.”

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When the migrants arrived, the authorities called Rev. Called Father Chip Seidel — but he was off-island, Rush said.

So she swung into action by members of the church and others in the community to rally in support of the migrants, she said.

St Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Martha’s Vineyard in Edgartown, Mass., welcomed 50 migrants into its care when they arrived on the island on September 14, 2022.
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

“they [the authorities] Asked if the church can take some migrants,” Parish musician Charles Russ told Fox New Digital.

“Fr. Seadale replied, ‘No – we can take all the migrants.'”

The 50 migrants spent two nights on the island before state officials escorted them to Joint Base Otis on Cape Cod on the Massachusetts mainland.

“There were people who needed help and the mission of our church is to help those in need, which is what Christians have to do.”

Rush said Martha’s Vineyard Island is not equipped to provide long-term care to migrants who were brought to the island from Florida a week ago.

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“It was not for lack of willingness to help, but for lack of physical space on the island itself,” she said.

The island’s lone homeless shelter, she noted, runs only in winter. It only has room for five to 10 people.

A migrant, to the left, is directed further onto Martha's Vineyard.  On the right, the exterior of St. Andrew's Church is pictured. "I can do what God is calling me to do as rector of the church," Said Father Seidel.

A migrant, to the left, is directed further onto Martha’s Vineyard. On the right, the exterior of St. Andrew’s Church is pictured. “I can do what God is calling me to do as rector of the church,” said Fr. Seidel.
(Image left: Matias J. Okner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images; Right Image: Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

“I think everything happened so fast, I don’t think long-term plans were even discussed,” Rush said.

Father Seidel told Fox News Digital in a phone interview on Tuesday that he was away at a conference in North Carolina while the expatriate was at Martha’s Vineyard.

Yet he was shaken by the community’s reaction.

Calling it “an incredible miracle”, he said that “all sectors of the community – we’re talking police, emergencies, fires, people who know how to cook for our winter community dinners, people who help our employees.” Let’s help with the overnight winter shelter program – they all came out and knew what they had to do.”

“It was not for lack of desire to help, but for lack of physical space on the island itself.”

Father Seidel also stated that “at the heart of all of that” was the campaign to ensure that whatever community members did “remain accessible to real people who were truly hurt and traumatized in their lives.” “

This, he said, was meant to show migrants “what a community based on care and love looks like.”

Victorian Gingerbread Cottage at Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard.  Father Chip Seidel said the purpose of the community "make the best with what we have" to help migrants.

Victorian Gingerbread Cottage at Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Father Chip Seidel said the community aims to “do the best we can with what we have” to help migrants.
(Photo via Getty Images by Jon Graeme/LightRocket)

He added that the community’s response “will give them hope for the balance of their journey — which, by the way, doesn’t end there by a long shot.”

Seidel defends Martha’s Vineyard against accusations of being selfish by the residents of Father Island.

“Unless you’re actually living here, you don’t understand how things work,” he explained.

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Noting economic, socioeconomic, government and private ownership concerns, he said, “everyone has a different way of doing things.”

“So, you know, we do the best we can with what we have.”

A man who was among a group of immigrants arriving at Martha's Vineyard shows a thumbs up on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 in Edgartown, Mass.

A man who was among a group of immigrants arriving at Martha’s Vineyard shows a thumbs up on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 in Edgartown, Mass.
(Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)

Father Seidel said he immediately realized that his church had the potential to, temporarily, house all migrants – and, as a rector, he had to do what he could.

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“I can’t fix immigration law in the United States,” he said. “I can not help [Gov.] Greg Abbott and [Gov.] Ron DeSantis with his issues in their respective states – knowing they have issues they’ve been dealing with over the borders for years.”

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He continued, “But I can do what God is calling me to do as rector of the church, and reach up and say, ‘You know what? I know you’re stuck in something like that. who is older than you.'”

He said it was “kind of strange” to see his small church “becoming part of a national issue”.

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By housing the migrants, Pt. Seidel said the residents of Martha’s Vineyard aimed to prevent them from “really getting into the machinery of these things and sometimes chewing and spitting out”.

He said that is likely to happen “unless other people like me and [the community] Step inside and say, ‘You know what? We can do what we can.'”

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