Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

Janice SalyersMany of us have a time in our life when our education and experiences coalesce, tipping our perception of the world.

For Janice Salyers, that time came when she was a teenager. It followed years of studying and performing music and dance, traveling and living with her parents and as an exchange student in Africa, Europe, Central America and Mexico. All the while, she was educating herself about the United States’ foreign policy and why we were so disliked in many parts of the world.

“It was a big awakening,” Janice says. “I saw firsthand the disparities and privileges that we have in the U.S. compared to other countries. In Mexico, I became aware of how dangerous an average citizen’s life could become, and my understanding about why people would risk everything to come to the United States became clearer.”

She continued to learn and grow through her adult years. In April 2018, Janice channeled this perspective into action when she participated in her first protest - a vigil with several Kairos-Milwaukie UCC members and other faith and social action groups to support immigrants being detained in Oregon.

“When I started hearing about the detainees, I wanted to get back into the issues and do something that would help our country be a little more just,” she says.

Janice travelled with several other KMUCC members to the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR) in The Dalles for a vigil and interfaith service to protest inhumane treatment of and unjust policies directed at undocumented immigrants. 

“I’m really proud of the stance our church takes on this issue and many others. It is a testament to the values of the people in our congregation,” she says.

Many KMUCC members are longtime activists. For example, Joanie McClellan was very active in the Sanctuary Movement, a religious and political campaign in the United States that began in the early 1980s to provide safe haven for Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict. The movement was a response to federal immigration policies that made obtaining asylum difficult for Central Americans. Joanie has remained active in immigration actions throughout the years.

“Our church is filled with people who want to walk the walk,” Janice says. “They have a passion for what they do, and they are not afraid to do it.”