During our Oct. 23, 2022 worship service, our Affiliated Community Minister, Rev. Dottie Mathews, was recognized for her past work as coordinator of the Congregational Accompaniment Project for Asylum Seekers (CAPAS), a program of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC).
As part of the recognition, it was announced that the UUSC has started a fund to support congregations as they welcome asylum-seekers into their communities and named it Dottie’s honor. The Dottie Mathews Congregation Action Fund will provide startup money to congregations who decide to take a leap of faith into immigrant justice work.
Jessica Sapalio, Dottie’s successor as CAPAS coordinator, made the announcement. Here are Jessica’s remarks:
I know that many of you are aware of the incredible dedication and many years of her life that Dottie has given to immigrant justice work and to designing the nationwide CAPAS program. Through her vision and the partnerships that she has built at many congregations and with many organizations, hundreds of asylum-seekers and families who were separated at the border have been met with welcome and solidarity in an otherwise dehumanizing process.
I first met Dottie when my congregation became interested in hosting a CAPAS program. New to immigrant justice work, we were so grateful for Dottie’s knowledge, guidance, and grace in helping us establish a local program to offer solidarity to asylum seekers, which is very similar to the amazing program that you run here under Dave and Allie’s leadership. In January of this year, I had the great honor of getting to try to follow in Dottie’s footsteps by becoming the CAPAS coordinator at UUSC to carry on the incredible program that she created. My daily mantra has become “What would Dottie do?”
In the meantime, I have become a huge fan of your congregation, often watching services remotely, so I was excited to accompany Rosie and Dottie here today, but I’m also here because the UUSC would like to officially honor the incredible contribution that Dottie has had to the immigrant justice field. Dottie, would you please come up?
Dottie is a true justice warrior who has changed the lives of so many involved in this program. In recognition of this, UUSC has started a fund to support congregations as they welcome asylum-seekers into their communities and named it in her honor. The Dottie Mathews Congregation Action Fund will provide start up money to congregations who decide to take a leap of faith into immigrant justice work.
We have also put together a book of messages from many CAPAS congregations, including yours, and partners throughout the country who wanted to express their gratitude.
I wanted to thank you all for having me today, for those of you who helped work on the surprise, and to Rev. Molly, who I am so sad to have missed. I wanted to send special love and thanks to Rosie who through her love has supported Dottie through this journey and therefore all of us, to all of you and your congregation for your commitment to supporting asylum seekers.