A prayer vigil tonight at an Odessa park will urge Odessans to “start with love” and to use voices and votes to champion those who are being dehumanized.

“My concern is the treatment of children, that we know that warehousing children is damaging to them,” the Rev. Dawn Weaks of Connection Christian Church said.

Weaks, who is co-pastor of the church, said the concern is not a political one, especially since she said neither she nor the national leaders of the Disciples of Christ “pretend to speak for my whole congregation.”

Much attention has been focused during the last week on the separation of families who attempt to illegally immigrate to the U.S.

The Associated Press reported Friday 20,000 beds at bases in Texas and Arkansas would house “unaccompanied alien children,” said a Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, although other federal agencies provided conflicting explanations about how the shelters would be used and who would be housed there. There were reports of widespread confusion on the border.

The Pentagon announcement followed President Donald Trump’s order that families be kept together after they illegally cross the Mexican border into the United States. The order called for detaining families at the same location.

Weaks and other leaders had issued a statement earlier in the week in support of keeping families together.

“We, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), have proclaimed ourselves to be a pro-reconciling/anti-racist church, which extends welcome to all people, recognizing that every person is created in the image of God. … When we start with love, we will understand that when laws dehumanize and discriminate, we are faithful in opposing such laws, and we are faithful in using our voice and our vote to call for love,” the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) statement detailed.

“We are a very, very diverse group, politically speaking,” Weaks said. “Where we come together is in our desire to follow Jesus Christ and to take care of people.”

That desire to care for people comes with a dedication to speak out against what they believe is wrong, she said.

“That’s what this issue is about, is making sure that children are cared for,” Weaks said. “Children who have done nothing wrong, who have made no choices for themselves, they’ve got to be treated the way Christ commands us to treat people.”

Weaks pointed out that scripture discusses immigration extensively, being that Jesus was a refugee from Israel, and she credits this as inspiration for the faith-community’s reaction.

“It’s important for us to speak to these really clear issues out of scripture when they come up in our national life,” Weaks said. “That’s the beginning of His story, is having to rely on other people’s hospitality. This is not a political issue for us, this is an issue of faith, of how we treat people.”

Connection Christian Church has also prepared a prayer vigil for 8 p.m. today at the Lions Club Park, 4341 Esmond Drive.

“It’s important to us to pray for the 2,300 children who have been separated from their families, for their unification, for the psychological trauma, if not physical trauma, they have been through and to pray for this situation to get better in our country,” Weaks said.

Weaks said that prayer is still critical, even after the President’s executive order ending the separation of children from their parents.

“We are still going to do the prayer vigil because this issue predates our current president and we don’t want it to just go away out of the minds because it’s out of the media,” Weaks said.

At the vigil, they will be accepting monetary donations to be given to their partner Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries for help with legal aid and housing for immigrants. Additionally, they will be accepting standard hygiene items like washcloths, bar soap, Band-Aids, combs and toothbrushes, which will also be given to Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 30 at their new church building, 4241 Tanglewood Lane.

Some members of Connection Christian Church will be doing a mission trip to the U.S.-Mexico border from July 8 to July 13, where they will be helping Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries with their efforts.

If You Go
  • What: Prayer Vigil
  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Lions Club Park, 4341 Esmond Drive.
  • Monetary donations will be accepted to be given to the Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries
More Information
If You Go
  • What: Donation Item Drop-off
  • When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 30.
  • Where: Connection Christian Church new building, 4241 Tanglewood Lane.
  • Items needed include washcloths, bar soap, Band-Aids, combs and toothbrushes.