By Nicole Shine/Garden Grove Journal
During her years as a teacher at Santa Ana Valley High School, Brenda Weikel saw many of her students deported.
But she can’t forget the one who won a full scholarship to Notre Dame.
“When he turned in the paperwork, they said ‘you’re illegal,’” Weikel recalled. “He was deported a week later.”
She shared his story Thursday night at a candleight immigration reform prayer vigil at Garden Grove United Methodist Church.
Weikel was one of a few dozen who gathered, part of a national movement led by the United Methodist Church.
While politicians battle over immigration reform, the church aims to humanize the discussion, explained the Rev. Carrie Cesar, head of the Hispanic ministry.
Here in Southern California, vigils are being held in Glendale, Echo Park and Claremont.
“Many of our local Hispanic families are living in fear and frustration,” Cesar said. “They face issues of family members being deported and some unjust laws that are not very caring to them.”
The vigil drew to the Main Street church the faithful from various denominations, several from the local St. Anselm of Canterbury Episcopal Church. They bore placards that said “God is Love” and “Justice for our Garden Grove neighbors.” They carried candles as they fanned across the front steps of the church.
Head pastor Ginny Wheeler snapped a picture to send to Congress.
“Visual symbols make impressions,” Wheeler said of the photo. “Our job is to make sure compassion of the heart speaks as loudly as business interests and other interests.”
She told those gathered of the church’s plan to open an immigration clinic. She urged them to write their elected leaders. Together, they read passages from the Old and New Testaments and Quran. They prayed for Congress to enact “fair and compassionate immigration policies.”
The Methodist church has always been about social justice, explained Weikel, a longtime member.
“In this church we have everything from liberals to conservatives,” she said. “But this is not a liberal or conservative issue, it’s a humanity issue.”
Contact the writer on Twitter @nicolekshine.