OGDEN -- Immigration bills now before the Utah Legislature were the impetus for a demonstration by members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden on Sunday.
In support of a national "Standing on the Side of Love" day observance by members of this congregation, Ogden believers chose to dedicate their efforts to immigration issues.
"I think this will be on the conscience of the Unitarian Universalist Church," said Pastor Ron Phares in an interview following the demonstration. "We will be watching these bills closely to make sure they are promoting love."
He said there currently are bills under consideration before the Utah Legislature that are inspired by both love and fear.
Phares rehearsed a poetic version of the beatitudes from the New Testament for his contribution to the demonstration.
About 70 UUC members marched to Ogden City Hall on Sunday following their regular worship service at their church at 705 23rd St. in Ogden.
As they marched, they held signs showing the "Standing on the Side of Love" logo and sang church hymns.
"Wake now, compassion. Give heed to the cry," were the words to one hymn they sang once they arrived at City Hall.
"Voices of suffering fill the night sky. Take as your neighbor both stranger and friend, praying and striving their hardship to end."
At the heart of the demonstration, members held signs bearing the names of those who died trying to cross the border from Mexico into Arizona in the last year, while participants sang the words "Comfort me. ... Sing with me. ... Speak for me. ... Walk with me. ... Pray with me. ... Mourn for me. ... Remember me."
As the names of the dead were read, those holding each sign representing the individuals lowered them and remained silent for the remainder of that hymn.
Among their probable causes of death listed were hyperthermia, hyperthermia and dehydration, exposure, perforated ulcer, drowning and hanging.
But many have died of unknown causes as they tried to enter the United States illegally, according to those who read at the event.
Participants also listed those whose remains were found mummified and in a skeletal state.
The Rev. Nancy Nightingale, an interfaith minister, spoke about ways to demonstrate love.
"At the core of every religion, the essential teaching, is that of compassion," she said.
"When we practice standing on the side of love, when we support our brothers and sisters in whatever way we can ... we grow ourselves as compassionate humans."
She also read a poem, which she said were the words of Buddha:
"In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to be born --
May all beings be at ease."