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From Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, Minister Emerita of Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Newbury Park, CA and Directors' Board of CLUE-VC.

12/10/2011: Members of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of Ventura County (CLUE VC) gathered with others in La Plaza Park in Oxnard, California, on December 10 to provide support for immigrant families who are being faced with the very real possibility that one or both parents will be (or have been) deported. These deportations result in children being separated from one or both of their parents and often being placed in foster care.

After a brief welcome and statement of the purpose of the vigil, Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, a UU minister and CLUE VC Board member from Thousand Oaks, introduced other clergy and lay representatives from various religious communities who shared blessings from their faith traditions in support of immigrants and in favor of changes to unjust immigration laws in our country. The representatives were a reform Jewish Rabbi, a Catholic priest, ministers from the United Church of Christ and Methodist denominations, a Muslim outreach person, and a Catholic deacon.

After these blessings, the Posadas, a reenactment of the Latin American tradition portraying the attempts by Mary and Joseph to find shelter was staged. Portraying the biblical story, the holy family was turned away from numerous inns until they are finally welcomed. But this Posadas, along with many modern-day presentations in other locations in the United States, substituted contemporary examples to illustrate the plight of current immigrants. The first "inn" that was closed to the Mary and Joseph was barred by immigration agents. The second "inn" was blocked by Congress, keeping immigrant students from their right to education. The door of the third "inn" was opened to them by people of justice and goodwill who welcomed them to a place of hope and celebration.

A crowd of about 80 people attended the event and signed postcards to be sent to President Obama, asking for justice for immigrant families. Candles were also distributed to those who attended with the request that they light them in support of our cause and take them home to remind them of the event and to use in prayer. At the end of the presentation, everyone was invited to walk to a local Episcopal church where they were welcomed to gather for conversation and refreshments.

This is the fourth year that CLUE VC has held a Vigil and Posadas, and many reported that they found it a very moving experience.

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