An announcement form Peace and Social Concerns Committee.
There will be a prayer vigil with the concern for the families losing shelter due to the ending of the emergency assistance which has been paying to shelter families in hotels which is being held at the statehouse on December 7th, here is the essential information.
The vigil will be from 9:30 – 11:00 if you can stay for the whole time. The Statehouse will be crowded and parking will be scarce, plan on allowing time to find parking. If you would like to ride with me I have room for 2 – 3 people.
Please sign up so we will have an idea of numbers. https://www.facebook.com/events/514397463980578?ref=newsfeed
Portland Friends Meeting adds: Also, as a reminder, there will be a zoom call on the 7th in the evening for PFM to consider how we might be called to respond to this crises. Mary Tracy will re-send this invitation closer to the date.
A detailed instruction sheet follows for the vigil.
IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS for Vigil and Witness on Dec. 7
If you plan to come to the State House in Augusta for the “Neighbors Need ME” Prayer Vigil and Public Witness on December 7th at 9:30:
● Please contact your state representative and your state senator via email BEFORE December 7 just to let them know you will be there. It will be a very busy day at the State House, as all 186 legislators are being sworn in and will likely have family members with them. You are letting them know about your participation in the prayer vigil/public witness so that when they see our group in the Hall of Flags, they will know what we are there to pray for and bear witness to, and that a constituent of theirs is present.
To get the name and/or email address of your state representative, click HERE.
To get the name and/or email address of your state senator, click HERE.
Dear Representative [or Senator] ________,
I am a constituent of yours from [name of town] and wanted to let you know I will be at the State House on December 7 as part of the Neighbors Need ME Prayer Vigil and Public Witness in the Hall of Flags. As a person of faith/goodwill, I feel compelled to bear silent, prayerful witness to the impending humanitarian crisis our neighbors in Maine face if they lose their housing when rental assistance programs end, eviction moratoria are lifted, and emergency hotel accommodations close their doors. All this is happening while our state’s shelters and warming centers are full beyond capacity, and winter weather is settling in. On December 7, I will join with other faithful people from across Maine to pray that the Legislature and the Governor work quickly to develop humane and practical solutions that are coordinated statewide before it is too late.
● Faith Participants are invited to wear the colors of Advent, a season of yearning, hope, and expectation in the Christian tradition: blue and/or purple.
● If you are a person of goodwill, we invite you to wear red—a red scarf, a red shirt, a red coat– for we seek to “love our neighbors” wherever they are and however long they have been in Maine.
● Try to arrange to carpool with others traveling to Augusta. Because it is swearing-in day, it is likely the State House parking garage will fill up early, as will the lots immediately adjacent to the building. You may need to arrive 45 mins early. It is difficult to tell how much time to allow because of the swearing-in. parking info
● When you enter the State House, be prepared to wait in line to go through the security checkpoint where you will be asked to remove your shoes before walking through a metal detector.
● After clearing security, walk straight past the welcome center to the main corridor of the building, then turn either right or left to take the stairs or elevator to the second floor and the Hall of Flags. Look for our group, including many clergy wearing vestments, and many participants wearing red or the Advent colors of blue/purple.
● As noted, this will be a very busy day at the State House. Crowds will be bustling through and across the Hall of Flags as legislators go to caucus meetings; bells will begin to ring loudly when the House and Senate are being called to convene; there will be a busy swirl of activity and noise all around us as we pray silently in the midst of it all. We invite you to learn from our Quaker siblings who practice the art of stillness and silence in prayer. Our silent, prayerful witness will be a striking contrast to what is going on all around us. And that’s kind of the point!
● If anyone asks you why we are there, or what we are praying for be prepared to briefly answer – for me I’ll say something about the families in Portland being evicted because the Emergency Rental Assistance funds are ending and that in Maine we don’t expect families to sleep outside in the winter. You can direct them to the Neighbors Need ME website and Facebook page for more information. You can also invite them to speak to Rev. Allison Smith or Rev. Peter Swarr, two of the key organizers of this coalition who will be present at the vigil.
● If you are approached by the media, please direct them to Rev. Allison Smith or Rev. Peter Swarr.
● If you would like to read more about this crisis as a way to get informed, and a way to inform your prayers, we recommend the report by the Commission to Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Land Use Regulations and Short-term Rentals https://legislature.maine.gov/doc/9239 , in particular Recommendation #7 on page 21.
● During the vigil, you should receive a stamped postcard to fill out and mail to Governor Mills as soon as you get home. It will let her know you were present at the vigil, and that you’re a person of faith and/or goodwill who is deeply concerned about the housing crisis facing your neighbors in need. Ask the Governor to work with the Legislature to immediately develop a statewide coordinated response plan instead of the current patchwork of local municipalities trying to manage this dire emergency on their own. We need State leadership in this crisis!
Again, for our Witness to be as effective as possible, please do three things:
- Contact your state representative and your state senator via email BEFORE December 7 to let them know you will be there. Ask them to immediately respond to this dire humanitarian crisis with a State-wide coordinated response for our neighbors who need housing and assistance in difficult times.
- Contact Governor Mills as soon as you get home to ask her to develop a State-wide coordinated plan because our neighbors all over Maine are suffering and need our help.
- Ask your friends and family to contact their legislators and the Governor.