ELCA Gulf Coast Synod Honors 50th Anniversary of March on Washington with Prayer Vigils for Immigrants

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Immigration Reform 2013   jpegIt’s my pleasure today to share a report from Folabi Olagbaju, our National Grassroots Director, on the important work being done by Texas leaders to support fair and compassionate immigration reform.

It was a truly a special and inspiring experience to have had the great opportunity of joining our Gulf Coast Synod in their Immigration Reform Prayer vigils on August 28 and 29 in Houston and Brenham, respectively.  The prayer vigils were organized to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The August 28 prayer vigil was held at the Zion Lutheran Church in Houston and the August 29 vigil was at the Christ Lutheran Church in Brenham.  About hundred people collectively attended both events.  A large contingent of pastors took part in the Brenham prayer vigil.  The order of service was presided over by Reverend Michael Rinehart, Bishop of the Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Bishop Rinehart began by noting that the story of the Bible is a story of migration and that Jesus Himself was the migrant in chief.  Drawing on his own family migration history, the bishop noted that we are a nation of immigrants and urged those in attendance to always welcome the strangers and never neglect showing love and hospitality to the strangers.  Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech video was played, followed by “We Shall Overcome” sung a cappella led by Bishop Rinehart.  Local pastors read scriptures and I gave a short speech on immigration reform.

Perhaps the highlight of the prayer vigils was the open prayers where participants were invited to offer their prayers and intentions.  People prayed for our nation at this critical point in our history; they prayed for our elected officials for God to give them wisdom and courage to do the right thing on immigration reform. Other prayers were offered for the church and the congregations for God to open minds and souls so we can truly come to love the strangers in our midst and bear prophetic witness to their plight.   The candlelight created a dramatic effect in the church as light played over the windows’ colors.

The prayer vigil was immediately followed by receptions where participants got to mingle and asked questions about immigration reform.  Participants also took action by signing petitions calling on their elected representatives in the House to support just and compassionate immigration reform.  Many also signed up to subscribe to LIRS Stand for Welcome updates to stay informed and involved on advocacy issues.

We are truly grateful to everyone who helped out and took part, and for the leadership of Bishop Rinehart. Also, many thanks to Andrea Martinez, Communications Coordinator, whose efforts made the events happen.

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