Elected representatives, faith community leaders and concerned parents gathered together Monday evening at Leesburg United Methodist Church to preach love and unity and sing songs of praise during a Families Belong Together prayer vigil.
The vigil was organized by members of the Loudoun interfaith community in response to migrant children being separated from their families at the southern U.S. border. Among those participating in the event were Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large), All Dulles Area Muslim Society board member Rizwan Jaka, Leesburg Town Council member Ron Campbell and Pastor Michelle C. Thomas of Holy & Whole Life Changing Ministries International. Each speaker encouraged the gatherers to respond with both faith and action.
“It’s we at the local level who have to fight back with all the kindness in our souls and all the love we have to make every human being welcome,” Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) said. “We need to fight together and we need to fight harder than ever. We need to make our expressions of love so outweigh the expressions of hate. With God’s help and blessing we win and love prevails.”
After exchanging prayers and personal accounts of people’s experiences with immigration, the crowd gathered together outside the church to march on West Market Street and rallied together along the fence outside courthouse and sang “This Little Light of Mine,” led by Thomas on a megaphone.
Some members of the crowd raised signs calling out immigration policies and demanding for change. One sign read “Diversity Makes America Great,” another read “Abolish ICE,” referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sone people passing by the vigil in their cars honked, waved and whistled in solidarity. Others gave looks and shook their heads at the demonstration.
“I’m praying for an administration that would take immigration and make it positive,” Leesburg Town Council member Marty Martinez said. “I’m not here to condemn, I’m not here to hate. I’m here to pray for our leaders and our people in Congress to have a heart.”
TJ Davis is a summer intern at Loudoun Now, studying journalism at Liberty University.