Yesterday, May 7, 2019, the Hon. Ronald Leighton of the US District Court in Tacoma, WA issued a 30 day stay on the eviction of the Chehalis River encampment in Grays Harbor County, while the City of Aberdeen identifies an alternative living site for camp residents. He added “and there’ll be hell to pay if I hear of any rousting people out without a place for them to go.” This is a historic win not only for poor and homeless folks in Aberdeen but for homeless people all over the United States. THANK YOU to all our prayer warriors! THANK YOU to all the clergy who packed the courtroom! We who believe in freedom cannot rest — fight poverty, not the poor!

The following is the short liturgy used yesterday by Chaplains on the Harbor and their supporters before the court hearing in Tacoma, WA.

Courthouse Liturgy for Homeless Human Rights

The people gather outside the courthouse before the hearing.

First reading: Job 24:1-8

Why doesn’t God set a time for judging,
a day of justice for those who serve him?
People move property lines to get more land;
they steal sheep and put them with their own flocks.
They take donkeys that belong to orphans,
and keep a widow’s ox till she pays her debts.
They prevent the poor from getting their rights
and force the needy to run and hide.
So the poor, like wild donkeys,
search for food in the dry wilderness;
nowhere else can they find food for their children.
They have to harvest fields they don’t own,
and gather grapes in vineyards of the wicked.
At night they sleep with nothing to cover them,
nothing to keep them from the cold.
They are drenched by the rain that falls on the mountains,
and they huddle beside the rocks for shelter.

Second Reading: Isaiah 5:8-10

Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.
The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:
‘Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.’

Laying on of Hands:
Clergy circle the plaintiffs — representing Native Nations, homeless encampment residents, and the church — laying hands on them to pray for protection.

Holy One of many names, you are always closest to those of us who have no shelter but heaven over our heads. We have come to this courthouse today seeking protection, and we pray for a favorable decision from the judge, but we will continue to push this fight forward regardless of the outcome. So we ask for your protection: for these plaintiffs, and for the 100+ people living at this encampment. We ask you to defend them as fiercely as a mother defends her children. We are in your hands. Shelter us with your love. In the name of the One who creates, redeems, and sustains us all. Amen.

The people enter the courthouse together.

Help Chaplains on the Harbor send a ten-person delegation from Grays Harbor County to Washington, DC for the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress in June!