UMs Hold More Than 250 Family Unity Prayer Vigils So Far
March 12, 2013
32 states, District of Columbia hold events seeking comprehensive immigration reform.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — United Methodists in 32 states and the District of Columbia have conducted more than 250 prayer vigils this year to bring attention to the brokenness of the U.S. immigration system. The vigils have been gatherings to share stories, acknowledge the system's brokenness and pray for legislative change. Primary focus of the vigils is to keep immigrant families together.
Most vigils have occurred in February and March.
The "Family Unity Prayer Vigils" are done in coordination with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a partnership of faith-based organizations committed to enacting fair, humane reform that reflects the biblical mandate to welcome the sojourner and treat all immigrants with dignity and respect.
U.S. immigration laws have led to thousands of families being separated or facing separation. A purpose of the Family Unity Prayer Vigils is to pray for change and advocate for clearing the enormous backlog of visas that has kept family members separated for decades and also to increase the number of visas available for families to be reunited.
An important part of most Family Unity Prayer Vigils has been showing a 12-minute video "Jasmine's Story," which tells how the United States' broken immigration system tore a family apart, and how a United Methodist church was transformed in responding. GBCS offered to provide the video free among other resources for the prayer vigils.
United Methodist Interagency Task Force
"Caring for immigrants in our communities is a primary ministry of The United Methodist Church," said Bishop Minerva Carcaño, co-chair of the United Methodist Interagency Task Force on Immigration. "We celebrate the tremendous work of so many United Methodists who have given witness to their support for just and humane immigration reform by hosting one of the more than 250 Family Unity Prayer Vigils. Through these public witness events, our immigrant communities, who have long suffered from harsh immigration enforcement policies, racial profiling and the violation of their human rights, have heard a word of support and hope."
Carcaño said there is still much work to do, but declared that she has complete faith in the passion and dedication of the people of The United Methodist Church. "I know that we United Methodists will not cease our work until we achieve just and humane immigration reform," she said.
Bill Mefford, director of Civil & Human Rights at the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS), said the more than 250 Family Unity Prayer Vigils represent the passion that so many United Methodists have for defending and supporting the rights of immigrants and their families. "United Methodists see firsthand the impact of the brokenness of our immigration system on immigrant families," he said. "Thus, we are determined to see reform passed that protects the family immigration system and reunites all families that are separated.
United Methodists are mobilized like never before, according to Mefford, who said these prayer vigils are just the first step. "We are gearing up for Neighbor-to-Neighbor visits where United Methodist leaders will be meeting with the elected members of Congress in their states and districts, and sharing with them the need for reform," he said. "We have seen the brokenness, but we have hope that finally Congress can do what is right and pass legislation that provides a pathway to full citizenship clear of any enforcement contingencies and reunites all families who have experienced the pain of separation."
For more information about how you can help achieve comprehensive immigration reform through faithful practices such as Family Unity Prayer Vigils, Breaking Bread & Barrier events or Neighbor to Neighbor meetings, contact Bill Mefford, director of Civil & Human Rights, General Board of Church & Society via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Prime responsibility of the board is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination's highest policy-making body. The board's primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.