The Story of the Vigil – La Historia de la Vigilia
Faith, Hope and Vote – Choice of Leadership, Courage and Action
Uncertainty hangs over Arizona. Politicians exploit people’s anxieties, turn fear into anger and anger into hatred. With SB 1070, politicians in Arizona created a law that discriminates against persons because of the color of their skin; criminalizes not what a person does but the person’s ethnicity, and persecutes the person because of who are their family, friends and community. Now is the time when people of faith and conscience must come together, take a stand and act out of courage and love.
On Monday, April 19, seven young members of our community stood together in front of the State Capitol and began a 24-hour vigil. They prayed for the Governor to open her heart to conscience and to make the moral choice and veto the bill. The Governor did not hear the prayers, but the community heard the call, and by evening, the small group of seven became more than 100 seniors, parents, youth and children coming together, holding candles in a big circle of prayer and song. The vigil continued, 24 hours a day, and every day and night, the vigil grew and grew. By Thursday, the vigil had grown to close to 1,000 people, and encircled the Arizona Senate grounds.
On Friday, the Governor closed her mind and heart, ignored the calls to conscience, and signed the hateful bill into law. Uncertainty, fear and anger washed over the community, but the community did not succumb to hatred or violence, and the vigil continued. The vigil continues now because the community is coming together to show their commitment and resolve to stand up for faith and hope in the face of despair, to stand up for what is right in the face of injustice. The vigil is faith in action, spreading love and hope to conquer hatred and despair.
The vigil is growing, not just here in Phoenix, but across the country. There have been solidarity vigils in California, Colorado, Michigan, Massachusetts, Florida and Washington, DC. There are more and more vigils being started across the country, and even across the world.
Community members of the vigil now call upon the President of the United States. He needs to know that we work and pray to make this country a better place, and the President must do the same, stop SB 1070 and deliver immigration reform so that our families can live, work and worship together as Americans, and not have to live everyday in fear.
The community came together on May 1 at a huge vigil and interfaith prayer service at the State Capitol. Thousands of families gathered, united in prayer to mark the beginning of the 90 days before the law goes into effect, and lifted each other up through faith, hope and a commitment to action. The community has launched an intentional grassroots, volunteer-based campaign of 90 Days of Faith, Hope and Vote. Each of us will commit to do the hard work necessary to spread the word. We will recruit our friends and neighbors, educate our community, engage voters who support our communities, and register new voters.