Unity of The Blue Ridge to Hold Prayer Vigil for Separated Families
On Sunday, July 29, Unity of The Blue Ridge will hold a 10-hour prayer vigil at the church, starting at 2 pm in our main chapel and ending at midnight. The purpose of the vigil is to unite in prayer for the well-being of the more than 2300 children separated from their parents when crossing the U.S. border between April and June of this year and for a compassionate way forward to respond to immigrants in our midst and immigrants still seeking to come to our country.
During the ten hours, there will be a mixture of spoken prayer, music, drumming, sacred ceremony, and long periods of silence. Everyone is welcome to attend, and other faith communities are invited to join, gathering with us in our church or uniting in prayer with your own community that day.
In April of this year, the U.S. administration began a policy of “zero tolerance” for families crossing our southern border. This meant that anyone entering the U.S. was immediately apprehended and put in detention, with children separated from their parents. While the immigration laws being enforced existed in previous administrations, this policy of family separation was new. Children and parents were sent to detention centers around the country, not knowing where their loved ones were going or if they’d ever see them again. Some parents were then deported back to their home country without their children.
On June 20th, in response to the public outcry, the President signed an executive order to stop the family separations. At the time, over 2300 children under the age of 12 had been separated from their parents in the three months that the policy existed. Late on June 26, 2018, a federal judge ordered the administration to reunite all the children and parents they had forcibly separated. They were given 15 days to reunite children under the age of 5 with their parents and 30 days to reunite those over the age of 5. The administration has admitted it will probably not meet this goal.
There are political actions that need to be taken, organizations we can support who are working with lawyers, immigrant advocates and social workers to reunite families, and local organizations with whom we can partner to provide support and understanding of immigrants in our area. Several members of Unity who are joining such efforts.
And right now, we can also pray. The Unity movement was founded on the belief in the power of prayer to transform hearts and lives. At Unity of The Blue Ridge, we believe in the power of united prayer to change communities and to move history. As a faith community, we have declared, “Our Love is Power” and committed ourselves to “stand up, speak up and show up wherever love needs a voice.” We have signed the Charter for Compassion which declares, ” We believe that a compassionate world is possible when every man, woman and child treats others as they wish to be treated-with Dignity, Equity and Respect”
During the July 29 Vigil we will Pray
· That all of the people in this nation, starting with ourselves and including those making decisions, those carrying out
those decisions, and those supporting these decisions, be softened to see the pain around us, to step out of fear and into empathy. In the words of the song, “Here I Am, Lord” God says, “I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts for love alone. I will speak my words to them. Whom shall I send?”
· That all of the families separated by our government be reunited as quickly as possible so that the trauma to these families can begin to heal.
· In thanksgiving for those families who have been reunited.
· That all families seeking asylum be given a fair hearing and not be unnecessarily detained as they await their hearing.
· That we begin to understand the situations from which these families have come, so that we may understand the role of our nation in the larger life of the continent we share.
· For healing for the children taken from their parents and for the parents.
· That our nation repent of the way we have repeatedly separated brown and black children from their families out of our own fear, greed and ignorance – from Native children sent to boarding schools, to enslaved children sold away from their parents, to Japanese families interned during WWII, to mass incarceration of black and brown young adults at rates far out of proportion to their white counterparts, leading to the highest rates of incarceration in the world.
· That each of us praying become clear about what is ours to do.
Facts sheets about these issues will be available along with ideas for action, including organizations to support. An offering basket will be present to support organizations working to reunite separated families. At the 9:45 and 11:30 services that morning, Rev. Laura Collins will speak on the topic “Hearts for Love Alone” as a lead-in to the vigil. For more information visit our website: unityblueridgenc.org or email Rev. Laura Collins at email@example.com.
Stand UP – Speak UP – Show UP