Norman Allen is the intern minister at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda Maryland. In October 2016, Norman and 14 others from the Bethesda area and beyond, travelled with UUCSJ to Tucson to learn more about immigration justice through immersion. Read his reflection below on how that journey motivated the congregation around immigration justice.

Walking the Migrant Paths in the Desert

The pilgrimage to Tucson and our stay at Borderlinks was a life-changing event for the congregants who took part, and it became a community-changing event when those congregants brought their experiences back to the Cedar Lane.

Since our trip last October, the ripples have extended far and wide. Participants have given formal presentations across multiple venues, shared their reflections during worship services, launched books groups on the subject, and inspired a growing number of Cedar Lane members to take part in marches and protests.


Cedar Lane members demonstrating alongside DACA students

Demonstrating alongside DACA students

Most important, a period of deep discernment, followed by an education campaign, and a series of formal conversations led to a near-unanimous congregational vote to become a Sanctuary church and to provide physical sanctuary to an immigrant in need.

All of this hard, inspiring work has its genesis in our days along the Arizona-Mexico border, under the expert guidance of our friends at BorderLinks and CSJ. We look forward to a return visit this fall, with a new group of congregants and new work to unfold!



Senior Minister Abhi Janamanchi, was one of the driving forces of Cedar Lane’s journey in October. He participated in an earlier Religious Professionals Border Witness journey with CSJ and used his experiences there to inspire Cedar Lane members to start their own journey.

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