The Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a partnership of faith-based organizations committed to enacting fair and humane immigration reform (including the UUA), has announced a national effort to organize prayer vigils and other actions coinciding with the first recess of this session of Congress, February 13-22, when members of Congress will be home in their districts.
Hosting prayer vigils around the country will give people of faith an opportunity to reflect on the scriptural and spiritual roots of our work to support immigrants in this country, highlight the moral aspects of the immigration issue, and to acknowledge the real-life consequences of our failed policies on immigrant families. It will show our representatives in Congress that humane immigration reform is a top priority for people of faith, and demonstrate a growing movement in support of immigration reform.
EVERYONE can be a part of this nation-wide effort—from the smallest community of faith to large suburban congregations or city-wide coalitions! Check out the following ways you can participate:
1. Plan a public prayer vigil coordinated with other places of worship. This type of vigil could include 50+ participants, your local media, and even your member of Congress. You may also choose to invite members of your broader community and publicize the event through the bulletins or websites of the participating congregations.
2. Plan a public prayer vigil for your community of faith, and if your congregation is already engaged in direct services related to immigrants and immigration, consider inviting an immigrant to share his or her story as part of the event. Even these smaller vigils can be a great opportunity to invite your local press outlets.
3. Add a focus on immigration reform to an existing/on-going community event or activity—voter registration drive, community meal, ESL classes, and/or discussion for your worshipping community. Contact local press to let them know you’re doing it!
4. Encourage your clergy or lay leaders to offer a sermon, litany or other major focus on immigration in worship.
5. Include a prayer petition concerning immigration reform within worship.
Whatever form your event takes, your prayers will be joined with other people of faith around the country praying for protection for immigrants, empowerment of people of faith to speak out more boldly for immigrants, and moral courage for Members of Congress to show leadership in enacting humane immigration reform.
Register Your Event Now
Once your congregation or social action committee has decided on an event, go to http://interfaithimmigration.org to register your event on the Interfaith Immigration Event Calendar. You can also use the calendar to find out who else is planning events in your area.
Registering your event is IMPORTANT—it helps the IIC track how many congregations are participating and provides information so that other immigrant advocates in your town know how to get involved. Even small events, multiplied around the country, will send a powerful message to representatives in Congress. Shortly after you post your event, the coalition’s prayer vigil coordinator will call to check in and see how the coalition can support your efforts.
Check out Getting Organized: A Quick How-To on Planning Your Prayer Event to help you plan and publicize your event. Check the Interfaith Immigration Coalition website later this week for a sample vigil program and press materials you can use at your event.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is here to help!
The IIC can provide media support for your event—they can provide a sample press advisory, press release, op-ed and letter to the editor. You can adapt the press advisory and press release to fit your event, and the IIC will send them out to media in your area and make phone calls to pitch the event.
Your UU Contact in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition
Lisa Swanson in the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy represents the UUA in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. If you have questions or want to know more, send her an email at lswanson [at] uua [dot] org, or give her a call 202-393-2255, ext. 22