Voices for Liberty
The moment we arrived at Allendale UMC, we were greeted with kind voices of welcome. The joyful voices of little children playing on the puzzle mat in the family section of the sanctuary followed us down the aisle as we found our seats. Voices singing throughout the church began to lift in soft music as the lights dimmed.
And then the children’s’ voices of fear, hunger, pain, and suffering came forth as readers voices came forward from behind the fence, positioned behind the altar. This fence symbolized the cages at the detention facilities that entrap and separate the children from their families and their freedom. These voices were horrifying.
After a short period of silence in the candlelight, the voices summoning the call to action responded to the question, “What can we do?” These strong voices of action, presented by the speakers, introduced the ways we can help. We were invited to select and attend a breakout group of interest: visiting Homestead, legislative advocacy, pressure on complicit corporations, immigrant protection, actions to enforce the Flores Agreement.
In the breakout groups, voices united as we shared interest, information, direction, and commitment—and anger. We left the meeting prepared for action! All the voices of the evening stayed with me as I left the church. But I realized there were voices we did not hear, the voices that will resonate the peace and love we long to hear. They are the voices of thousands of imprisoned children who are now free, well-nourished and have received medical care. Children safe in the arms of their families. Children playing together on colorful mats in the churches throughout America. Through the Lights for Liberty vigil, I came to fully realize that is our voices in action that will release the children. Through our work, we can and must bring those missing voices of liberty into the light, into harmony.
After the opening prayer, about 20 of us from various faith & justice communities – some wearing foil blankets – became the “Voices of the Children,” going behind the fence & reading their words from interviews at a Texas detention site. Representing Lakewood UCC, I read the testimony of a 16-yr-old whose sick baby was denied medical care.
As we read, the hundreds gathered lit candles throughout the sanctuary.
After songs were sung & the candles were snuffed, we heard speakers from the FL Immigration Coalition, Dream Defenders, and ACLU encouraging us to take action. This is Ana Lamb (FLIC).
During the vigil, people wrote words of hope and promise for the children on Ribbons of Commitment that were then tied to the fence.
Representative Charlie Crist encouraged us to action.
Before going home, we divided into breakout groups to learn specific actions we can take: visiting Homestead, legislative advocacy, immigration protection, pressure on complicit corporations, and actions to enforce the Flores Agreement.
This was a powerful evening of committed people and organizations, willing to move out of their comfort zone to make a difference!