The issue of child detention and family separation has grabbed the country’s attention.
In Hopewell. the Hopewell United Methodist Church hoped to help bring light to this immigration issue and provide prayer, song and sharing.
“In the church’s social principle, we recognize the call to just immigration laws. The church in general had really felt strongly about treating our neighbors and immigrants respectfully,” Rev. Laura Steele said. “We recognize we are in a moment of incredible global migration. As people of faith we are called to love all persons and embrace those from countries of all origins.”
The church held a prayer vigil on July 12 at its location on Blackwell Avenue to stand with refugees seeking asylum.
“Seeing the unsanitary conditions at the border you realize families and children have been separated for awhile now. The rate at which this is happening now is painful to many of our folks as whole,” Steele said. “Our vigil was an invitation for the church and the community to come together and pray for all of our brothers and sisters who are suffering.”
She said the church wanted to open up a safe space where a lot of people in the community can come together and share.
“We prayed for some solutions. We intentionally made it clear that this is not a political protest, that this was not a political vigil,” Steele said. “We do not intend to vilify any political leaders; we actually lift up all of our leaders. We lift up the President, our government, Congress and border patrol because we all are dealing with this.”
She said people who attended hoped that there would be fair, loving and complete solutions.
“We recognize we are in the mist of a humanitarian crisis and that regardless of where people are coming from they deserve basic human necessities such as a warm meal,” Steele said. “I announced at the vigil we were not here to talk politics, even though this is political in many ways, we did not want people to come to criticize our leaders or policy.”
The church provided a letter writing station where people could write letters to members of Congress and New Jersey state representatives.
“We lit candles, we sang, held hands and shared our stories. There is a certain level of healing that comes with that,” Steele said. “In that moment our spirits and our souls are being changed, which I believe affects change outside.”
Hopewell United Methodist Church joined other churches and organizations across the nation on July 12, in Lights for Liberty, to end child detention and family separation.