UCC immigration advocates hold welcoming vigil at ICE office during Synod
“It’s all of us, or it’s none of us.”
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, United Church of Christ Associate General Minister, kicked off the Immigrant Welcoming Vigil on the afternoon of Monday, July 3.
“We still have to address the fact that we open our borders, homes, churches and hearts more to some than to others,” she said.
More than 60 UCC General Synod participants and community partners gathered at University Park in downtown Indianapolis for the vigil, which included a march to the local field office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Several UCC and community leaders joined Blackmon in speaking about U.S. policies that are not immigrant welcoming.
The Rev. Linda Jaramillo, former UCC executive of Justice and Witness Ministries, said that we cannot let these policies go to the Supreme Court but need to address them in our own communities and halls.
“I can’t help but take it personally and we all have to take it personally,” said Jaramillo. “As immigrant welcoming people, let’s pay attention to what is happening in our own communities.”
‘Nothing is impossible’
Chanting as they walked, vigil participants moved to the front of the Federal Building where speakers implored action.
“Every person is worthy of protection and safety, and we in America can offer that,” said Rachel Van Tyle, director of legal services for Exodus Refugee in Indianapolis. “Demand that President Biden change his new policy. Seeking asylum is a human right.”
“Go into your Latino communities and embrace people you see and see how we can be stronger together in supporting our laws,” said the Rev. Yinessa Romero, associate pastor of Cathedral of Hope in Dallas and a member of the Colectivo de Latinx Ministries.
“If we work together nothing is impossible,” said the Rev. Sandra Pontoh, pastor of Maranatha Indonesian UCC in Madbury, N.H. Pontoh and her church are actively involved in their community of 2,000 Indonesians, she said, some of who are asylum seekers.
The Rev. Noel Anderson, coordinator of the UCC Collaborative on Immigration and one of the leaders for the vigil, offered a final blessing and call to action: “May you be inspired as you go back to your communities to bring people together around this common cause.”
The Rev. Diane Weible, a General Synod newsroom volunteer, is a former journalist and the owner of Enkei-Resolutions, a coaching and consulting business focused on supporting churches and ministers.
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