A “Families Belong Together” candlelight vigil sponsored by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy gathered outside the main doors of the convention center in Cincinnati, where Annual Conference is taking place this week.
The event on the evening of July 4 featured speakers from the Church of the Brethren’s Intercultural Ministries and expressed concern for families being separated at the border.
“This is not a time I ever expected to see,” said Intercultural Ministries director Gimbiya Kettering. Referring to Matthew 22:15-22, she asked the crowd, “Bring me a coin,” and then quoted Jesus’ saying, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Translating that into today’s immigration situation, she said, “Each of us bears the image of God. We belong to God and cannot be rendered unto Caesar.”
Kettering asked the crowd, “I would like to see you raise your hands if you are part of a congregation that helped settle refugees.” Many of the people present raised their hands.
Cesia Morrison of Iglesia Renacer Church of the Brethren in Christianburg Va., prayed, “Padre, gracias por este tiempo…. May your Spirit protect the families.”
Gilbert Romero, who has for many decades been active in the Church of the Brethren’s Intercultural Ministries, commented on his experience of ministering across the southern California border in the Tijuana area of Mexico. “As I cross the border I found...people afraid...because of the declaration [made by the government]. Friends of mine have been arrested by mistake.... I carry my passport with me everywhere,” he said. “We are God’s people. We are one,” he declared.
The gathering lit candles and sang songs including “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “Jesus Loves Me” in Spanish.
-- Frank Ramirez and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford contributed to this report.
The news coverage of Annual Conference 2018 is made possible through the work of communications staff and a volunteer news team: Frank Ramirez, Conference Journal editor; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown; writers Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Alyssa Parker; youth team member Allie Dulabaum; web staff Jan Fischer Bachman, Russ Otto; Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services; Wendy McFadden, publisher. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.