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Evangelical Leaders to House Members: ‘We’re Not Going Anywhere’ on Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 24, 2014 — The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention hosted a screening of The Stranger, a documentary film that explores immigration from a distinctly Christian perspective, for congressional staff on Capitol Hill today.

More than 1,250 screenings in 40 states have been scheduled since the June 4 premiere of The Stranger. Following today’s screening, Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President of Public Policy and Research for the ERLC, made the following statement:

“The faith community addresses this question from the moral perspective. We’re saying, let’s legalize these folks because they’re being abused, children are living in fear, and people are not living up to their full potential. The Cantor loss doesn’t make the need for immigration reform any less urgent, it doesn’t change the Bible’s thousands of years of guidance on immigration.

“We’re beyond the point of having to win this on principle or policy. We’re now just at the point of politics. We’re not going anywhere. The Southern Baptist Convention is going to continue to call for immigration reform until we get this done.”

Dr. Duke was joined by local and national evangelical leaders for a discussion on the moral imperatives for reform. They emphasized that for evangelicals, reform remains urgent:

Jon Ashley, Senior Pastor, The Presbyterian Church, Fremont, Neb.:
“I live and pastor in a community where immigration has really had an impact and has been a divisive issue. I’ve seen lives hurt, families torn apart, kids afraid that their parents aren’t going to be there when they come home from school. As a pastor my heart is aligned with God’s call to welcome the stranger and help those that are being hurt. Whatever the political climate is, the need for reform is still there. It just needs to get done.”

Pastor Patty Pell, Community Impact Pastor, Christ Community Church, Greeley, Colo.:
“I’ve spent a lot of time studying the legal codes of the Old Testament, which really show God’s heart for immigrant. Today, Christians are stuck between wanting to be law-abiding and caring for people, and immigrants are stuck there as well. The only way out is to reform the system. Someone has to decide to be courageous and do something because the public wants our members of Congress to act.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“Pastors are the ones dealing with the brokenness of the system in families in our local communities. Faith leaders bring a moral voice, but they also bring the stories of dealing with the impact of our broken system. The House is in a special position right now to act on reform. And now the debate isn’t a policy question, it’s a matter of when. There is a real urgency to get this done, and if we don’t, the brokenness in our communities is going to continue and is going to deepen.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and follow the film @thestrangerfilm.

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Evangelical Leaders Announce Letter Pressing House Leadership for Action

**For a recording of today’s press call, click here.**

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 12, 2014 — National and local evangelical leaders joined a press call today to announce the release of a letter to House leadership.

In the letter, the Evangelical Immigration Table urges Congress to move forward with votes on broad immigration reform this summer — in spite of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat.

Today also marks the two-year anniversary of the Table’s launch. With the letter and other efforts this summer, leaders are telling Congress that it’s time to decide whether and how immigration reform rooted in biblical values will move forward.

The call comes amid more than 800 nationwide screenings of The Stranger, which highlights the stories of three families caught in our broken immigration system.

The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“The overdue reform of our nation’s immigration laws should not depend on a limited number of one-party voters in one district of one state on one day. Let’s ask all of Congress to vote for all of America. If now is not the right time for immigration reform, when is?  Is Congress waiting for 2020, 2040, or would 2014 be best for America?”

James Heyward, Pastor, Calvary Church of the Nazarene, Annandale, Va.; resident of Majority Leader Cantor’s district:
“I’m here to say that the time to act is now. I live in a community where we see the effects of bad immigration policy all the time. I believe this is our opportunity to put this before Congress, put this up for a vote and pass commonsense reform this summer. I think this is not a political ball we play with. This is about people, and as evangelicals we care about people. I’m excited about the political opportunity I think we have.

“As a person who lives in Cantor’s district, we were not as surprised by the results of the primary. We felt that his not connecting on this particular issue and going back and forth on it hurt him. People like Lindsey Graham who clearly stood for immigration reform handily won their primaries.”

Bill Robinson, Interim President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; President Emeritus, Whitworth University, Spokane, Wash., in Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers’ district:
“As an association of Christian higher education institutions, our colleges and universities are caught in the middle of our broken immigration system. Thousands of high school graduates who are otherwise qualified, and are often some of the most driven and motivated students, can’t afford to go to college because of their legal status, even though they were brought to the United States through no fault of their own. Our institutions are doing everything they can to make it possible for these students to go to college, but we can’t do it alone. We need Congress to act and fix our broken immigration system to help these students and their families, our colleges and universities, and our country.”

Monserrate Salas, Pastor, Iglesia Hispana Emmanuel/Emmanuel Hispanic Church, Springfield, Ohio, in Speaker Boehner’s District:
“This is not about politics, it’s about people. As Christians, we are called to love people, to help people. My husband and I pastor a church that is Hispanic and 85 percent immigrant, and it’s sad to see families torn apart, parents whisked away, leaving children abandoned and not knowing when or if their parents are coming back. People come here for work, to better their lives and those of their family. They come to pursue the American dream. We need reform and we need it now.”

Tony Suarez, Vice President of Chapters, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“While members of the House have mulled over what direction to take in passing immigration reform these past years, the NHCLC and our president, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, provided a covering of prayer and support. It appears that some in leadership do not comprehend the urgency of the moment. Rev. Rodriguez has said, ‘It takes faith to move mountains, conviction to speak truth, courage to do justice and love to change the world. Immigration reform will require all of the above.’ Due to the urgency of the moment and the lack of progress in the House of Representatives, we announced this week that we call on Hispanic Evangelicals not to support candidates that do not support commonsense immigration reform.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“The politics of passing immigration reform may have changed this past week, but the moral urgency of passing reform has not. Principled stances on immigration reform are what the American people, including many evangelicals, want from their elected officials. It’s time for the House of Representatives to do their job and for House leadership to make a decision on whether to move forward with immigration this summer or not. If they do move forward, they will see support from many in the evangelical community who are dealing with the consequences of broken families within a broken system every day.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform.

Documentary Explores Biblical Response to Immigration

‘The Stranger’ to Premiere in Tampa and Orlando Tonight

**For a recording of today’s call click here.**

ORLANDO, JUNE 11, 2014 — Local evangelical leaders joined a press call today previewing local Orlando and Tampa screenings of The Stranger, a documentary film that highlights the biblical call to welcome the stranger and explore immigration reform from a distinctly Christian perspective.

More than 1,000 attendees are expected at each of the two screenings at 7 p.m. tonight. The Tampa and Orlando screenings will be hosted by the Evangelical Immigration Table and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. The film highlights the moral imperatives for reform, including the immense human costs our current system exacts on our churches, our families and our communities.

The film is available for download at www.thestrangerfilm.org. Across the country, more than 700 screenings have been scheduled in more than 30 states.

On the call, speakers stressed that reform remains urgent this year urged Congress to move forward in spite of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat. The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:

Rev. Evelyn Chaparro, Spanish Pastor, The River Church, Brandon:
“There are too many people that do not understand the suffering of the immigrant. I believe this movie will open a window to the hearts of many. Many who will want to help and will finally see that we have to do the right thing and help the immigrant with reform that will make sense in the eyes of God and to this country.”

Rev. Javier Figueroa, President, Pastors Association of Kissimmee:
“Only Congress can provide lasting solutions, and it must. While The Stranger helps us understand the problems created by the status quo, only Congress can add a sustainable solution. Stories like those featured in this film will continue to proliferate until our leaders take action. Evangelicals expect Congress to pass commonsense immigration reform this year.”

 Rev. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland Church, Longwood:
“Immigration reform is a must for Florida. A large portion of our state population is particularly hurt by a broken immigration system, and the millions of evangelicals who live here increasingly know, and want to help, the families that live in the shadows of fear and separation.”

Rev. Lynn Nichols, Senior Pastor, Tampa First Church of the Nazarene:
“Immigration has become a political football kicked around in order to score points for politicians. Or it has become the issue to blame people’s financial woes on. What it needs to become is personal. Immigrants are people God loves, and we need to begin responding to them the way God does and asks us to in His Word. The Stranger tells the stories of real people and the real need for immigration reform.”

Dr. Oliver Phillips, Executive Director, Connexion Empowerment Center Inc. (CECI), Orlando:
“The present system is both inequitable and inadequate. The genius of America is that we solve problems, and there is no more pressing issue for us than to repair and reform the present system. This reform must be comprehensive in nature. It must be sensitive to those who have been caught in long lines awaiting a response from the legal channels. It must be smart enough to capitalize on the rich talent that has contributed to the labor pool that guarantees affordable houses and low prices in the grocery stores. It must be compassionate enough to empathize with the deteriorating living conditions from which undocumented immigrants come. It must be generous enough to demand of us that we remember that we are all immigrants.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“Evangelicals sustain an unwavering commitment to immigration reform. It’s the right thing to do. The Stranger film puts in front of our eyes the lamentable human costs of inaction. Now is the time to act.”

Film Screenings Information:

WHEN:         Wednesday, June 11
                          Both Screenings: 7 p.m. EDT

WHERE:       Tampa Screening:
                           Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal M.I.
5800 North Church Avenue
Tampa

Orlando Screening:
                          Iglesia El Calvario
2500 West Oak Ridge Road
                         Orlando

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and follow the film @thestrangerfilm.

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World Premiere Film Event Explores Biblical Response to Immigration

‘The Stranger’ Premieres in Chicago Ahead of Nationwide Screenings

CHICAGOThe Stranger, a documentary film that looks at immigration from a biblical perspective, premiered Wednesday before more than 200 people at Park Community Church in Chicago.

The film highlights the stories of three families who are caught in our broken immigration system. It is available for download via www.thestrangerfilm.org. Already, more than 500 screenings are scheduled in more than 30 states.

During a call Tuesday and at a panel discussion following the screening, national and local evangelical leaders spoke about the immense human costs our immigration system exacts on churches, families and communities:

Paco Amador, Pastor, New Life Community Church, Little Village, Chicago:
“The Stranger describes the kind of immigration reform that we as evangelicals believe our nation needs. This is not an obscure issue being talked about in semi-empty halls of government buildings. It is a daily conversation at kitchen tables, classrooms, boardrooms, factories, parks and social venues throughout the land, with direct impact for countless individuals, families and entire communities.

“The kind of immigration reform we are seeking has the power to influence the destiny of our country for generations to come by providing real hope and opportunities for every hardworking and responsible person within our borders. This film paints our message in human strokes.”

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Some people think immigration reform is most about politics but it’s really about people. The Stranger is the stories of real people.”

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago:
“The new documentary The Stranger is another important effort to educate and mobilize a growing movement of evangelicals across a wide spectrum that have joined our effort to reform our broken immigration system.”

Peter Hong, Lead Pastor, New Community Covenant Church, Chicago:
“We as evangelicals are a people of the Word. God’s call for us to ‘welcome the stranger among you’ (Matthew 25) is a clear mandate to follow in the steps of our Master. This film should motivate and encourage churches across this country to act as agents of grace and justice in their communities and cities. The time to act is now!”

Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners:
“This film powerfully demonstrates the substantial costs our broken immigration system imposes on families. It also shows why addressing this moral crisis is a major test for our nation’s politics. We must live into the hope of a better future and stronger country inspired by the common good. This film reveals the opportunity available to our leaders and the suffering that will continue if action isn’t taken.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“An inspiring film that highlights the human side of immigration beyond the politics, The Stranger presents the stories of real people from our own evangelical community who are impacted by our broken laws. This film will be a critical tool that the church can use to elevate the conversation of what it means to carry out a biblical call to welcome the stranger among us.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and follow the film @thestrangerfilm.

Evangelical Leaders, Local Pastors Highlight New Film Exploring Biblical Response to Immigration

**For a recording of today’s call click here.**

CHICAGO, JUNE 3, 2014 — Local and national evangelical leaders joined a press call today in advance of Wednesday’s world premiere of The Stranger.

The documentary film, a project of the Evangelical Immigration Table, looks at immigration from a biblical perspective and highlights the stories of three families caught in our broken immigration system. These stories underscore the immense human costs our current system exacts on our churches, families and communities.

The premiere event Wednesday will include a screening and panel discussion with national and local evangelical leaders. Throughout the month, it will screen at local churches, theaters and community centers across the country — already, more than 500 screenings are scheduled in more than 30 states.

A trailer is available at the film’s website, http://www.thestrangerfilm.org.

The following are quotes from leaders on today’s press call:

Paco Amador, Pastor, New Life Community Church, Little Village, Chicago:
“The Stranger describes the kind of immigration reform that we as evangelicals believe our nation needs. This is not an obscure issue being talked about in semi-empty halls of government buildings. It is a daily conversation at kitchen tables, classrooms, boardrooms, factories, parks and social venues throughout the land, with direct impact for countless individuals, families and entire communities.

“The kind of immigration reform we are seeking has the power to influence the destiny of our country for generations to come by providing real hope and opportunities for every hardworking and responsible person within our borders. This film paints our message in human strokes.”

Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“The Stranger tells the stories of immigrant families, showing that they are people just like us, with hopes and dreams — and the added challenge of having to navigate our broken immigration system. It is heartbreaking that children worry about their parents being taken away, and devastating to know that these nightmares have too often become a tragic reality for innocent children. Evangelicals are responding with compassion and with the conviction that there must be a better way.”

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago:
“The new documentary The Stranger is another important effort to educate and mobilize a growing movement of evangelicals across a wide spectrum that have joined our effort to reform our broken immigration system.”

Filmmaker Linda Midgett, Owner/Executive Producer, Midgett Productions:
“It was an honor to be asked to produce The Stranger by the Evangelical Immigration Table. It’s not often that I am able to use my skills as a filmmaker to address such an important issue. I went into this project not sure what I thought personally about our immigration system. After doing the research, interviewing experts and, most important, hearing the stories of families who are being torn apart, I am convinced that it’s imperative we reform our laws now. I pray evangelicals rally around this film and create change that will help our nation and show the love of Christ to all.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Pastor, The Lamb’s Church, New York City:
“The power of The Stranger film is that it brings to the screen the pain and suffering caused by a broken immigration system. Evangelicals continue to urge Congress to act this year to bring a humane resolution to hurting families.”

Pastor Derrick Smith, Kaleidoscope Multi-Ethnic Fellowship, Spartanburg, S.C. (featured in the film):
“This film is important because American Christians ought to view immigration reform more as loving Christians and less as offended Americans. The Bible is clear that Christians are to welcome the stranger.”

Information about the world premiere:

WHAT:
World premiere of The Stranger, followed by a panel discussion with national and local evangelical leaders

WHO: 
Paco Amador, Pastor, New Life Community Church, Little Village, Chicago
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago
Peter Hong, Lead Pastor, New Community Covenant Church, Chicago
Mike Rolfes, Director, Renew Chicago
Lilian Samaan, Executive Director, World Relief Chicago
Matthew Soerens, Field Director, Evangelical Immigration Table; U.S. Church Training Specialist, World Relief
Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners
Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief

WHEN: 
7 p.m. CDT Wednesday, June 4

WHERE:
Park Community Church
1001 N. Crosby Street
Chicago

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and follow the film @thestrangerfilm.

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