|Prayer vigils planned in support of immigration reform|
Hundreds of prayer vigils for just immigration reform will occur at
churches around the country. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Feb. 12, 2009 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)
More than 100 prayer vigils have been planned in February to support immigration reform, representing the largest mobilization of people over the issue since thousands marched in 2006, according to a United Methodist executive.
“This tremendous response by people of faith is due to seeing the devastation of raids on immigrant families and local communities and the need for Congress to have the moral courage to enact just and humane comprehensive immigration reform,” said Bill Mefford, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
Many United Methodist churches will hold vigils and United Methodists are involved in many of the events planned across the nation, he said.
The Rev. Joan Carter-Rimbach, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Hyattsville, Md., said her church will hold a prayer vigil for immigration reform on Feb. 18.
“We have a Justice for Our Neighbors clinic at our church and we welcome folks in once a month and help them with immigration issues,” she said. “We thought it was our obligation and our duty to respond to immigration reform to help push this along.”
United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño of Phoenix, leader of the denomination’s Desert Southwest Annual (regional) Conference, was in Washington Feb. 11 to help launch a national interfaith campaign for humane immigration reform.
The campaign is designed to engage people of faith on the immigration reform debate and the vigils are planned during the Feb. 13-22 Congressional recess.
“Prayer is a powerful, fundamental aspect of our faith,” Carcaño said. “When nothing else has changed hearts and changed minds in the past, prayer has been that changing factor. I believe in the power of prayer.”
Carcaño, who serves in a border state with a large immigrant population, said she has seen “inhumane and racist” actions taken against both documented and undocumented workers.
“I do not believe those actions reflect who we are as people of faith, as citizens of this country. A voice must be lifted.”
An interfaith prayer walk and vigil is planned Feb. 22 at First Lutheran Church, Decorah, Iowa. One of the largest workplace raids in Iowa’s history occurred in Postville, Iowa, where more than 300 people were arrested.
“Immigrant families and workers are living in a state of fear, as we have seen firsthand in our community…they are constantly worrying about the next raid that would rip parents and children apart or how the increasing anti-immigrant sentiment will impact their families,” said David Vasquez, a member of the Decorah Area Faith Coalition. “Now is the time to restore dignity and respect to all families and communities.”
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a partnership of faith-based organizations, has formed a platform on immigration reform that includes upholding family unity as a priority. More than 500 congregations across the nation have joined the coalition in support of their platform. For a full schedule of events, please visit www.interfaithimmigration.org.
*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bishop Minerva Carcano “… a voice must be lifted.”
Rev. Joan Carter-Rimbach: “our obligation and our duty to respond…”
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Statement by Bishop Minerva G. Carcano
Desert Southwest Annual Conference
Interfaith Immigration Coalition
Board of Church and Society