Join the Episcopal Church’s June 21 Prayer Vigil for Family Unity
For more than a century the Episcopal Church has been engaged in the ministry of welcoming immigrants, walking with them as they begin their new lives in our communities and advocating for immigration policies that protect families from separation, offer meaningful access to citizenship, and respect the dignity of every human being.
In response to recent news about family separation, the Episcopal Church invites you to take part on Thursday, June 21st, in an all-day vigil on the longest day of the year, in recognition of the fact that any day children are separated from their parents is too long. The day will begin with Morning Prayers at 8 a.m. as we gather with interfaith leaders to pray and reflect until shortly after sunset at 9 p.m. From 12 p.m. -1 p.m. EDT we will host an hour-long virtual vigil on Facebook Live. Both the vigil and virtual vigil will be a space for prayer, reflection, education and action on immigration issues and asylum. Religious leaders from a variety of traditions and denominations will speak, and Members of Congress will also be present to share in prayer and worship.
“We are holding this vigil to condemn family separation and to pray for all parents and children who are currently being detained,” explained Rebecca Linder Blachly, director of the Episcopal Church’s office of government relations. “While tomorrow we will be focused on the recent separations of families at the border, we must also remember the millions of families who have been torn apart by violence and persecution in the global refugee crisis. We chose to hold this vigil on June 21 – the longest day of the year – because every day that family members are separated is too long. We will join together with interfaith partners to pray together for an end to this crisis, and to ask all governments to develop humane policies towards migrants.
“We continue to encourage Episcopalians and all people of faith to call on the U.S. Congress to end harsh and harmful immigration policies and to pass bipartisan, comprehensive reform that recognizes the dignity of every person.”
Ways to participate:
1. Join us in Washington, D.C. for the June 21 Vigil from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. at the United Methodist Building Chapel, 100 Maryland Ave. NE Washington, DC.
2. Participate in the virtual vigil via Facebook Live
3. Submit prayers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or social media to be read at the vigil, or attend in person if you're in D.C.
4. Engage on Social Media with #KeepFamiliesTogether
6. Start a vigil of your own in your parish
Reclaiming Jesus: “Suffer Little Children: The separation of immigrant children from their parents is not biblical” and Reclaiming Jesus video.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s AM Joy appearance Topic: “Sessions misuses bible to justify separating children from migrant parents”
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell Topic: “Religious leaders: Call Trump’s family separation for what it is – sin”
The text of the Presiding Bishop’s message is below:
Hello. On June 21st, the Office of Government Relations of the Episcopal Church is sponsoring a Prayer Vigil for Family Unity. This prayer vigil, and I hope you’ll come to it, is designed and intended to be a context for people of faith, Christian people, to come together, to pray, and to advocate on behalf of family union in our government policies.
This includes issues of immigration and issues of refugee resettlement. Even as I speak, our country has been in the midst of a great and profound moral debate over keeping families together. Whether children should be separated from their mothers and from their families. And while there appears to be some sense of resolution about that immediate issue, the broader concerns about detaining families continue. The ways that we implement our immigration concerns, the ways that we secure our borders, need not be separated from our compassion and our human decency.
And so, we’re asking Episcopalians and other people of good will to come together on the 21st for this Prayer Vigil for Family Unity. But not just for immigrants who are crossing our borders, our Southern border in the United States. There are people who are refugees around the world. There is a worldwide refugee crisis.
When I was in Jordan, I was able to spend time with refugees from Syria. A woman kept asking me, “Please, please, Bishop, let me go to America. Help me to go to America.” The crisis is real.
I was just in Seattle, Washington, where the Episcopal Migration Ministries is working to resettle refugees. And people from Eritrea, and the East Coast of Africa, had been successfully resettled.
But it’s important to know that our government has shortened and restricted refugee resettlement in our country. We are now at historic lows for resettling refugees in our country. These numbers are lower than after 9-11. Lower than 1980. These are numbers of people who are fleeing for their very lives to come to this country for safety, and health, and wellbeing.
We can do better than that. We can do and work together so that our country, America, will truly be America the beautiful, a land of brother- and sisterhood for us all.
You can learn more about how you can participate, whether in person in Washington, or via the internet, or in other ways, at advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/immigration.
God bless you. And you keep the faith.