Prayer vigil for asylum seekers

prayer vigilMore than 50 people braved the cold last Sunday to pray for asylum seekers at a vigil held outside St Mark’s Uniting Church, Mornington.

The 90-minute vigil was organised by three Uniting Church ministers: Rev Cameron McAdam from Mount Eliza Uniting Church, Rev John Haig from St Mark’s Uniting Church and Rev Paul Chalson from Mount Martha Uniting Church.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are now almost 60 million refugees worldwide, with almost half of them children. This means that one in every 122 people globally is either a refugee or an internally displaced person.

Mr McAdam told The Mornington News the vigil was for all asylum seekers seeking protection throughout the world.

“We prayed not just for asylum seekers trying to reach Australia but for all displaced people in the world including Africans trying to reach Europe, and Rohingya from Burma and Bangladeshis trying to escape persecution and crushing poverty in Asia,” he said.

Speakers at the event included Berlin Guerrero from the synod’s Justice and International Mission unit. Mr Guerrero was serving as a pastor in the Philippines when he was abducted and tortured by state security forces. He was released after spending more than 15 months in prison and successfully applied for asylum in Australia, where he is now an ordained Uniting Church minister.

The vigil came in light of the recent Border Force Act, which could jail immigration workers and doctors for sharing information about the conditions of detention centres.  More than 40 former detention centre staff challenged Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to prosecute them in an open letter published last week.

Mr McAdam vowed to continue speaking out against the government’s immigration policies until all children are released from detention.

“There are still 81 children on Nauru and 138 children in detention on the Australian mainland,” he said.

“The government must release all children from detention, close offshore detention centres, and introduce a fairer and more reasonable policy approach including a regional solution in the future.”

The vigil was followed by a sausage sizzle with all proceeds going to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

The following prayer was read by Rev John Haig at the vigil (words by Christine Sine):

Immerse yourself in the love of God
Be patient as God is patient
Be kind as God is kind
Be selfless as God is selfless
Immerse yourself in the love of God
Rejoice in the truth
Endure all that is bad
Hope for all that is good
Immerse yourself in the love of God
Care for your neighbour
Give to the poor
Speak out for justice
Immerse yourself in the love of God
Love is God’s heart
Love is God’s language
Love never ends
Immerse yourself in the love of God.

Image from Presbytery of Port Phillip East Facebook page.


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