For the second week members of a Pleasant Hill church have held a 30-minute vigil in front of the Cumberland County Courthouse.
Pleasant Hill Community Church United Church of Christ has hosted a mission called “Witness for the Children,” a vigil at the Cumberland County Courthouse on Mondays from 12:30 to 1 p.m.
“The idea for the vigils came from a member of our immigrant assistance team who, like many of us, felt like we needed and wanted to do something about this dire situation for children at our southern border,” the Rev. Glenna T. Shepherd, pastor of Pleasant Hill Community Church UCC, said.
The church welcomes others to join who believe the treatment of children being separated from families at the border is wrong.
“Our aim for the vigils is primarily to create visibility and call attention to the plight of refugee children who are being separated from their parents, sometimes without a way to reunite them, and being held in deplorable conditions that compromise their physical and mental health and wellbeing,” Shepherd said.
Dozens of motorists traveling through downtown Crossville honked and waved at the group as they passed the courthouse Monday.
The group plans to continue the weekly vigils until the conditions for the children are improved.
“We’re making a statement about both the immorality and inhumanity of the policy and practice of holding children in cages, as well as the particular conditions under which they’re being held. We’re doing this distinctly as people of faith who are called to give our lives to name the injuries in our world and work to alleviate suffering. Particularly the suffering of those who are on life’s social and political margins,” Shepherd said.
She said the group is not making a partisan political statement and any political party member is encouraged to join.
“We welcome all whose hearts break for these children to join us in prayer and compassionate witness,” Shepherd said.
She said members of the church are also active in the Pleasant Hill community through volunteering at Pleasant Hill Elementary School, Wharton Nursing Home and through the Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill. The church also helps support The Grab Thrift Store in Pleasant Hill to offer affordable clothing in the area.
She said the church also has been active with national nonprofit groups Back Bay Mission and Heifer International.
Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster said the group has filled out and filed the required form to host the vigils.