“First we pray, then we act for justice.” So the Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford opened the Interfaith Prayer Vigil at the “Sunday of Solidarity with Refugee Families” in Ventura on December 9th. It was held at the corner of Victoria and Telephone at the Ventura County Government Center.
Dr. Stapleford is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Santa Paula and co-chair of Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-Ventura County), convener of the event.
Dr. Stapleford welcomed the large crowd present and continued, “On this Sunday of Solidarity we have gathered to draw strength from each other and from those who have traveled so far, only to languish at our Southern border but with the hope of claiming asylum in the United States.”
Anne Ward, a member of the North Oxnard United Methodist Church and part of the organizing committee, said, “People of faith are frustrated. We cannot accept the fact that those seeking asylum are being treated so poorly and our asylum laws are not being followed. We cannot allow such cruelty to continue in our name.”
“Judeo-Christian scripture tells us repeatedly to welcome the stranger,” said event co-chair the Rev. Melissa Campbell-Langdell, pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church in Oxnard.
Stories of some of the migrant asylum seekers were read. Prayers were said for the migrants and for the people there to strengthen their resolve to call for changes to policies now hurting would-be asylum seekers. The vigil concluded with a call to action emphasized by the blowing of the Shofar, the Jewish ceremonial ram’s horn, by Rabbi Lisa Hochberg- Miller of Temple Beth Torah in Ventura.
Those present were charged with taking actions to ameliorate the situation at the border: contacting elected representatives, serving at the border, and donating to organizations that are supporting the migrants.
Event co-sponsors included: Indivisible Ventura, Democratic Moms of Camarillo, Indivisible Ojai, Buen Vecino, and Coastal Alliance United for A Sustainable Economy (CAUSE).