FSW participates in Dallas prayer vigil for separated families

About 150 people of faith gathered at ICE headquarters in Dallas to pray for the plight of asylum seekers, and particularly separated families and detained children, July 1 in Dallas. (Photos courtesy Kim Kaufman, North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church)

About 150 people of faith gathered at ICE headquarters in Dallas to pray for the plight of asylum seekers, and particularly separated families and detained children, July 1 in Dallas. (Photos courtesy Kim Kaufman, North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church)

Prayers from across the spectrum of religious faith went up on behalf of separated immigrant families this week. Faith Forward Dallas sponsored a prayer vigil Monday at the regional headquarters of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. About 150 people from a variety of faiths sanctified that soil with their prayers for asylum seekers clustered on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. They included representatives from Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Islamic, Presbyterian and United Methodist congregations.

People of faith and compassion are not only outraged but also burdened for the plight of separated families and children detained in often-deplorable conditions, said Rachel Griffin Baughman, senior pastor at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church in Dallas. “This is not the America we imagined,” she added, noting the rate of detention is 60 percent higher than it was last year.

Omar Suleiman, a professor of Islamic studies at Southern Methodist University and co-chair of Faith Forward Dallas, prayed for the children separated from their families. “Let us see them as our children … and not rest until they are free,” he said. “Let us use the gifts you have afforded us to unlock the gifts that should be available to them.”

Representatives from the assembled faith groups took turns praying for the children, their families, and the circumstances from which they fled and into which they have come.

“Our prayers do not abdicate our responsibility for action,” Baughman said, calling on participants to visit with their congressional representatives, pleading for justice on behalf of the children.

Holly Bandel, associate minister for mission and advocacy at First United Methodist Church in Dallas, championed advocacy for asylum seekers. “Advocacy—this is how change is made,” she said. “Yes, it’s made one person at a time. But it’s better if we do it all together.”

The prayer vigil represented “a desperately needed sign of hope,” Baughman said. “Families are being separated. … Let no hatred enter our hearts. … Reach out to the persecuted.”

You can participate in a worldwide vigil for immigrants. “Lights for Liberty” will be held Friday evening, July 12. For more information, visit the Lights for Liberty website.

Jay Pritchard