A church in the Netherlands has hosted a continuous worship service for the last five weeks to protect a migrant family from being deported.
Bethel Church in The Hague has been cycling out different religious leaders to utilize a Dutch law that prevents immigration authorities from entering a place of worship while religious services are being held, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The initial service began at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 and has been going round-the-clock ever since.
Axel Wicke, Bethel’s pastor, said that more than 450 different priests, pastors, deacons and elders of every denomination have traveled from around the country to host a service.
“Even from abroad we’ve gotten help — there have been sermons held in English, French and German,” he told The Times. “It’s quite moving to us. I often see a pastor handing over the service to another pastor of another denomination who they would ordinarily not have anything to do with, liturgically.”
The filibuster-style church service is meant to protect the Tamrazyans, an Armenian family who fled after receiving death threats over the father’s political activism.
The family — including two parents and their three children, ages 21, 19 and 14 — were denied asylum after spending almost nine years in the Netherlands and are at risk of deportation.
They have been living in a apartment in Bethel Church.
Their daughter Hayarpi, the oldest child, and visiting religious leaders have been documenting their experiences on Twitter.