Claremont United Methodist Church transformed its Christmas nativity scene into a powerful statement about family separation by caging their figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and releasing a theological statement on the United States’ treatment of refugees.
A Facebook post by Senior Minister Karen Clark Ristine includes a picture of the nativity and the aforementioned statement, which encourages onlookers to “consider the most well-known refugee family in the world.” The statement continues:
“Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death.
What if this family sought refuge in our country today?”
Clark Ristine also wrote that the church building contains a second set of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph figures depicting the family’s reunion.
Claremont UMC’s website includes information on the church’s previous work with asylum seekers at the U.S. border, and a recent post states the church raised $10,000 for Justice For Our Neighbors, an organization that provides legal counsel for detained and separated children. A blog post from 2018 also details the church’s participation in joint ministries with Mexican churches at Border Field State Park.
The minister’s Facebook post has gone moderately viral, with thousands of comments praising or excoriating the church’s choice to use their nativity to reflect on the current situation at the U.S. border.