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Evangelical Leaders to Congress: Pass Immigration Reform in the Next 92 Days

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 6, 2013 — With 92 days left until the start of the August recess, the Evangelical Immigration Table is launching the second stage of their campaign for humane and comprehensive immigration reform with an open letter to Congress that carries one simple message: The time is now – we respectfully urge Congress to pass immigration reform within the next 92 days.

The number 92 is particularly symbolic in the Bible – “ger,” the Hebrew word for immigrant, appears in the Old Testament 92 times.

Today’s letter is the latest push by the evangelical community for comprehensive and humane immigration reform. Over the course of the last 92 days, tens of thousands of people participated in the Table’s “I Was A Stranger” prayer challenge, five radio ad campaigns were launched in five key states and more than 300 evangelical leaders gathered in Washington, DC to hold over 90 meetings with congressional leaders on the Hill for the National Day of Prayer and Action.

In the coming 92 days, the Evangelical Immigration Table will expand on the nationwide momentum they’ve already built by announcing a host of new mobilizing efforts centered on prayer and action for immigration reform.

An excerpt of the letter is provided below. To read the letter in full, please click here.

“We understand that opponents of immigration reform will not make voting for reform politically easy, and we recognize the divisiveness surrounding the immigration debate and deeply held feelings of your constituents.  However, we believe the moral case for reform is clear. As such, we commit to supporting you in taking courageous votes both now and in the future. And we pray that God gives you wisdom and courage as you deliberate and vote on legislation we believe is vital for the future of our churches and our nation.

“Ger” is the Hebrew word for immigrant. It appears 92 times in the Bible.  As Bible believing Christians we are launching from these teachings to set the goal of passing comprehensive immigration reform in 92 days. We respectfully urge you to pass immigration reform within the next 92 days.”

Evangelicals Mobilize to Capitol Hill on Immigration Reform for the First Time; Respond to Senate Immigration Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 17, 2013 — Today, on the same day that the Senate introduced immigration reform legislation, hundreds of megachurch pastors, denominational leaders, heads of evangelical organizations and other leaders descended upon Washington, D.C. for the first-ever national “Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action on Immigration Reform.”

The Day of Action kicked off with a press conference on Capitol Hill and will continue with a morning worship service of hundreds of evangelical leaders from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Since its inception in June 2012, the Evangelical Immigration Table has released immigration ad campaigns in Christian radio in key states, led letter-writing campaigns, and launched national prayer challenges like the “I Was a Stranger Challenge” and the G92 Conferences at universities all over the U.S. The “I Was a Stranger Challenge” called on elected leadersto join over 10,000 Christians in reading a verse a day for 40 days and learn about God’s heart on immigration. The G92 Conferences have energized young evangelicals like never before. In this school year, 7 universities have hosted these conferences to discuss and plan for immigration reform.

Throughout the day, delegations of evangelical leaders are scheduled to meet with 80 Congressional representatives and their staff to discuss the evangelical support for fair and practical reform that includes an earned path to citizenship.

The following quotes can be attributed to evangelical speakers at today’s Capitol Hill press conference:

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, Pastor, The Lamb’s Church and President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC):

“The time for immigration reform is now. NaLEC remains hopeful that we will cross this rubicon with strong bi-partisan support. Now is the time for courageous leadership. The 7.8 million Hispanic evangelicals are looking to see real leadership not partisanship on immigration reform.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:

“We are encouraged that after months of careful negotiation and deliberation, a group of bipartisan Senators will soon introduce an immigration bill that reflects many of the principles World Relief has been advocating for. While the introduction of the bill is just one step forward in a long process, we applaud the actions taken by the Senate and believe such leadership from Members of Congress and the President will continue to be critical in the months ahead.”

Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention:

“The contentious issue of immigration reform is rending the social fabric of the nation in ways that are far easier to rend than they are to mend. It is well past time for our elected representatives to quit behaving like politicians who are focused on the next election, and start focusing on the next generation as statesmen and deal with this issue in a fair and responsible way. Comprehensive immigration reform must secure the border, secure the workplace, recognize the dignity of each and every undocumented worker, and find a pathway to earned legal status and or citizenship for those who desire it. There should be no room for second class citizens in our democracy. Those who desire citizenship should be able to earn it.”

Timothy Goeglein, Vice President of External Relations, Focus on the Family:

“If our immigration challenges are to be effectively addressed, then we need a balance of compassion, respect for the rule of law, and common sense.  We can find that balance, rooted in what is best for families, marriages, and kids.  We at Focus on the Family are dedicated to keeping families together as they comply with entrance requirements.”

Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, Illinois):

“Immigration is an urgent issue that directly affects many individuals within Willow Creek Community Church and thousands of other local churches around the country. I’m encouraged that our elected officials are now coming together to address this topic. I join many within our local church family in praying that they find consensus.”

Kenton Beshore, Senior Pastor, Mariners Church (Irvine, California):

“The biblical mandate is clear that we are to love and care for the poor, orphaned, widowed and strangers; namely immigrants. For over twenty-five years, our church has cared for those on the margins of our society. It was through our work in one of the most impacted cities, west of the Mississippi, that we came face to face with the effects of our broken immigration system.”

Dr. David Uth, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Orlando:

“I’ve met so many families whose lives are broken by the system. I want to find a way to help them, influence the debate on immigrants and immigration, not to write it, but to bring it to a discussion. No matter their immigration status, if they are part of our community we will minister to them. We, as evangelical Christians, travel halfway around the world to bring hope to people. Why should we not reach out in our own neighborhoods?”

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Chair. National African America, Clergy Network:

“The Black evangelical community stands in solidarity with our Latino brothers and sisters for comprehensive immigration reform that respects the dignity and right of every person to a better life.”

Dr. Carlos Moran, Board Member, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:

“As Evangelicals, as born again believers, as the spiritual heirs to the mantles of Billy Graham and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we affirm our conviction that it is the time to reconcile border security with security of our values; values that include faith, hope and charity. Values that prompt us to worship our Lord and welcome the stranger.For at the end of the day, passing immigration reform is not, as Rev. Samuel Rodriguez reminds us, about advancing the agenda of the donkey or the elephant. Immigration reform is about living out the agenda of the lamb.”

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ICYMI: Evangelicals’ Resounding Call for Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 10, 2013 — With Congress back in town and immigration-reform legislation expected soon, a front-page article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal covers the increasing support among evangelical Christians for bipartisan immigration reform that includes steps toward earned citizenship — a “dramatic shift” from previous debates, when evangelicals stayed on the sidelines.

In addition, the new cover story in TIME magazine (April 15 edition) focuses on just one reason evangelicals have reconsidered their immigrant neighbors: For evangelicals, “they” are increasingly “us.” Latino churches make up a key and growing component of evangelical churches in the U.S. In a post about the article, writer Elizabeth Dias cites the New Life Covenant Church in Chicago. In 2000, all of the church’s 100 attendees were Spanish speakers; now its 17,000 members can choose from 11 services, nine of which are in English.

The increased importance of Latino evangelicals to American churches and the increasingly outspoken support among white evangelicals, both in the pulpit and in the pews, for immigration reform comes as evangelical leaders prepare to share their support in person with congressional leaders in Washington. On April 17, the Evangelical Immigration Table expects hundreds of participants for its Day of Prayer and Action, which will send a clear message to Congress: Support for commonsense reform is strong within the evangelical community, and it is time to move forward.

The Evangelical Immigration Table also has run a radio ad campaign on Christian radio in five key states: Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. In the ads, local pastors from each state encourage listeners to support immigration reform based on Table principles.

The message should be clear to lawmakers in both parties: The time has come for Congress to engage in the kind of respectful debate that we’ve seen in churches all over the country. These conversations are changing hearts and minds in the pews, and it is time for Congress to work together to pass just immigration reform that includes a road to earned citizenship.

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A media advisory for the Evangelical Immigration Table’s April 17 Day of Prayer and Action follows.

Hundreds of Evangelicals to Gather in D.C. for Day of Prayer and Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 17, hundreds of megachurch pastors, denominational leaders, heads of evangelical organizations and other leaders will gather in Washington for the “Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action on Immigration Reform.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to introduce immigration reform legislation in the next few days, and lawmakers will hear a unified evangelical voice proclaiming a biblical vision for immigration reform that respects the rule of law, reunites families and upholds human dignity.

The Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action will feature a Capitol Hill press conference, worship services and meetings with legislators to support legislation that reflects Christian values and builds the common good.

WHAT: Evangelical Immigration Table Day of Prayer and Action on Capitol Hill

WHO: Confirmed speakers include:
•    Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill.
•    Dr. David Uth, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Orlando
•    Dr. David Anderson, Founder and Senior Pastor, Bridgeway Community Church, Columbia, Md.
•    Lee de Leon, Executive Pastor, Templo Calvario Church, Orange County, Calif.
•    Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief
•    Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World
•    Tim Goeglein, Vice President for External Relations, Focus on the Family
•    Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
•    Sandra Van Opstal, Director of Worship, Urbana Mission Convention, will lead worship.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 17, 2013, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Daylong events will include a press conference, meetings with members of Congress and their staffs, and worship services.

PRESS RELEASE: Florida Faith Leaders Call For Bipartisan Immigration Solutions

JACKSONVILLE, FLA., APRIL 3, 2013 — As the immigration reform debate moves forward in Congress and in our nation, evangelical leaders continue to strongly support just and accountable immigration solutions. Today, prominent Florida and national faith leaders spoke at “Who is My Neighbor? An Evangelical Forum on Immigration,” where local residents discussed the urgency for a new immigration process based on biblical principles. The discussion follows the launch of the Evangelical Immigration Table’s immigration radio ad campaign in Florida and other key states.

Matthew Soerens, a nationally recognized evangelical leader, spoke with Florida evangelical leader Travis Trice about the complexities of the debate for fellow Christians. They urged attendees to turn to scripture to see what Jesus had to say about welcoming the stranger and asked them to pray and strategize about how to improve our immigration process.

Said Matthew Soerens, U.S. Church Training Specialist, World Relief, “We are working to build a moral movement of evangelicals who believe in just and practical immigration solutions that include an earned process for citizenship. Tens of thousands of Christians have accepted the ‘I Was a Stranger Challenge’ and are reading 40 days of Bible verse to learn about God’s heart for the immigrant. This is inspiring a new and productive conversation in our churches about the value of immigrants and immigration to our nation.”

PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders Amplify Call For Bipartisan Immigration Reform With Radio Ads in Key States

WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 3, 2013 — With members of Congress home for their Easter recess, leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table announced today a new round of immigration ad buys on Christian radio in four key states: Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Texas. The ads are playing statewide at saturation levels.

The ad campaign further increases the Evangelical Immigration Table’s support for Congress to produce a new, bipartisan immigration process this spring. It also presages the April 17 Day of Prayer and Action in Washington, during which evangelicals will meet with legislators to demand action, as well as continue the biblically inspired reflection on immigration exemplified by the “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge.

The buy follows a successful ad campaign on Christian radio stations in South Carolina that led into the recess. Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., met with evangelical leaders in South Carolina, including the speaker in the ad, to discuss immigration.

The following quotes are from the speakers on today’s call.

Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention:
“Evangelical Christians who listen to Christian radio tend to be well educated in the scriptures and politically engaged. Reaching them with this message about God’s heart for immigrants and the importance of immigration solutions rooted in biblical values will be absolutely crucial for building the political will we need to pass meaningful reforms in 2013. Our political leaders need to hear from our constituents and from their constituents and know that evangelical Christians are strongly behind them if they have the moral courage to act on the values we see in Matthew 25 and other places in the scripture concerning welcoming the stranger.”

Rev. Dr. David Uth, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Orlando:
“There’s a consistent message throughout scripture, and it’s a command to welcome and to treat fairly all people, but especially the stranger and the foreigner in your land. … When we fail to welcome the stranger, in essence we fail to welcome Christ. And so Christians in our church, when they learn about God’s heart for the immigrant and what the Bible has to say, their hearts are open because we are a people of faith and it is our desire to live out that faith in our world. Coupled with that, when they meet these immigrants, when they have personal encounters, all of a sudden this issue has a face, it has a story. And it’s in that meeting that transformation happens and has happened here for us. … We know that the time is now for this discussion.”

Rev. Dr. David Fleming, Senior Pastor, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston:
“We’re beginning now to see [immigrants as] ‘us’: We live together, we work together, we serve together, we’re all in this together, and the notion of welcoming the outsider and the stranger and inviting them in has been key to that. We see the immigrant as a person created in the image of God. They’re husbands and wives, they’re parents, they’re children. Oftentimes our broken immigration system causes great suffering in the homes and in the families and in people’s lives. … I believe and my experience has been here in Texas that conservative Christians and evangelicals are rising to support a biblical approach to this very complex issue.”

Rev. Nick Lillo, Lead Pastor, WaterStone Community Church, Denver:
“The Bible doesn’t give us a piece of legislation to govern our immigration system, but it does give us a framework and an approach on how we can think as Christians in a way that’s faithful and biblical. … I really didn’t understand the injustice of our immigration system or how convoluted of a process and unfair of a process it is, but when you start talking to people who are even in the midst of that, it just angers you, because it’s not treating them fairly or justly. … As evangelical Christians, we have to ask ourselves whether or not the way we think and feel and act toward immigrants as individuals, as a community, and as a country really reflects the way we think that Jesus himself should be treated. And we need to ask our elected officials to ask themselves the same questions.”

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association:
“It is impossible to read the scriptures and not to conclude that how we treat the stranger and the vulnerable among us is very closely connected to the authenticity of our Christian faith … The focus of our effort as evangelical leaders goes way beyond politics. It’s about changing hearts around the nation, including changing the hearts of our legislators. … We’re a growing movement of evangelical Christians who are committed to supporting Congress and exerting pressure on our elected officials to make sure that commonsense, just immigration reform is a reality this year.”

**To listen to a recording of today’s call, visit http://tinyurl.com/Evangelical0402.
To listen to the ads, visit https://soundcloud.com/eit_1.**

PRESS RELEASE: Colorado Faith Leaders Call For Bipartisan Faith Solutions

FORT COLLINS, COLO., MARCH 29, 2013 — Today, Colorado evangelical leaders joined together at SouthGate Church in Fort Collins to discuss immigration from a biblical perspective. They spoke about the moral imperative to improve our country’s immigration process in a way that adheres to biblical principles and keeps families together.

One focus was the ongoing “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge, during which church members, pastors and elected officials are reading a passage of scripture related to immigrants daily for 40 days.

The following statements can be attributed to speakers at today’s event:

M. Daniel Carroll-Rodas, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of the Old Testament, Denver Seminary:
“My goal is to open these scriptures to pastors, illustrating that if we are Christians, we need to base our lessons on what the scripture says. The Bible teaches us to welcome strangers, and we must live that. We must make this a foundation for what we are communicating to our congregations.”

Michelle Warren, MPA, Colorado Immigration Specialist, Christian Community Development Association:
“Immigration is a biblical justice issue. As we learn to value people as equals in humanity, deserving to be treated with dignity and respect, we will look at all life and justice issues with new understanding. The Bible clearly spells out how we are to welcome the stranger among us, to care for and have compassion for them. As Christians we need to learn and practice the spirit of hospitality to the nations that are coming to our doors and not allow our politics and fear to hinder that spirit.”

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PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders Plan DC Day of Prayer and Action at Key Moment in Immigration Reform Discussions

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 25, 2013 — The moment to fix our broken immigration system and restore hope to millions by passing immigration reform has arrived. On April 17, a unified evangelical voice will echo through the halls of Congress proclaiming a biblical vision for immigration reform that respects the rule of law, reunites families and upholds human dignity.

Evangelical leaders are planning their day of action as bipartisan leaders in the Senate try to reach final agreement on the elements of immigration legislation before their two-week Easter recess. At this critical moment in legislative negotiations, members of the Evangelical Immigration Table pray that all stakeholders involved can work toward a compromise. The hopes and dreams of millions lie in their hands.

WHAT: Evangelical Immigration Table Day of Prayer and Action on Capitol Hill

WHO: Confirmed speakers include:
•    Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill.
•   Dr. David Uth, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Orlando
•    Dr. David Anderson, Founder and Senior Pastor, Bridgeway Community Church, Columbia, Md.
•   Lee de Leon, Executive Pastor, Templo Calvario Church, Orange County, Calif.
•    Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief
•    Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World
•    Tim Goeglein, Vice President for External Relations, Focus on the Family
•    Rev. Sam Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
•    Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
•    Sandra Van Opstal, Director of Worship, Urbana Mission Convention, will lead worship

WHEN: Wednesday, April 17, 2013, beginning at 10 a.m. Daylong events will include a press conference, meetings with members of Congress and their staffs, and worship services

For questions, please e-mail media@immigrationforum.org.

PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders to Push for Earned Citizenship

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 18, 2013 — Evangelical leaders today announced a statement of support for earned citizenship as part of broad, bipartisan immigration reform. The Evangelical Immigration Table’s call is rooted in the biblical values of human dignity and respect.
The conversation around immigration has changed among evangelicals and is changing in Congress, where leaders are hearing the call of evangelicals and others who are pushing for a road to earned citizenship. Evangelical leaders have continued to build momentum: They met with President Obama on March 8 to talk about immigration reform and are in the midst of a Christian radio ad campaign in South Carolina in support of immigration reform informed by biblical principles. Speakers on today’s call also noted the impact of the continuing “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge.

The following statements can be attributed to speakers on today’s call:

Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“We’re pleased that all of the serious proposals that have been put forward for fixing our broken immigration system do involve having a way for those who are here in an undocumented status to come forward and identify themselves and then be able to earn permanent residency and eventually citizenship. … We want to see at the end of the day an opportunity for the folks who have been here, who have been working hard and contributing but lacking that legal status, to be able to eventually become citizens like the rest of us.”

Robert Gittelson, President and Co-Founder, Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
“All of our organizations [in the Evangelical Immigration Table], from the more progressive groups to the more conservative organizations, didn’t have significant daylight between us in how we felt about the issue of earned citizenship. We were unanimous in our conclusion that both from a moral perspective as well as from the perspective of our shared American values, we all felt that some kind of rigorous yet attainable pathway towards eventual citizenship was appropriate and just. … Aspiring Americans should be able to swear their oath of allegiance and fealty to our great nation [and] be able to assume the oath of citizenship. They should have an eventual yet unfettered access to the full pursuit of our shared American dream.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“The National Latino Evangelical Coalition is so hopeful that there’s strong bipartisan support, that the Evangelical Immigration Table, with evangelicals from all over the political spectrum and ideological spectrum, have gotten behind a legalization process that gives people a path to citizenship. We believe that now is the time, that the moral standard is being met … Many of our congregations are full of immigrants that just want to contribute to the American dream and contribute to the American economy.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners:
“As evangelicals we don’t believe there are second class images of God, and therefore we don’t believe in a second class status for people who are willing to follow an earned path toward citizenship. That’s very important to us. … We’ve been through a conversion on this as evangelicals, a biblical conversion, a relational conversion, and really a conversion about the future of the church. … Faith leaders can offer to political leaders both courage and coverage, sometimes, to do the right thing … we think that’s happening now and we’re very encouraged by the atmosphere on this issue.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, World Relief:
“We believe that immigrants will contribute to the social fabric of our country and really build upon the values that our country was founded upon. … For many in the evangelical community, we strongly feel like we should not create bad policy for the sake of political expediency that will only kick the can down the road, but we should address this issue once and for all and really create a permanent pathway for immigrants to earn the right to stay in this country but also earn citizenship as well. [Earned citizenship] makes social sense, it makes economic sense, and for those in the evangelical community, it’s something that we meaningfully embrace as something that’s an important part of the immigration debate.”

 

PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders Launch S.C. Ad Campaign to Call for Bipartisan Immigration Solutions

 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 13, 2013 — Today, the Evangelical Immigration Table announced an advertising campaign in support of immigration reform on 15 Christian radio stations in South Carolina. The advertisement, which will run at saturation levels for two weeks, features Spartanburg County Rev. Jim Goodroe, urging support for immigration reform based on biblical principles. Goodroe, who participated in the call, also co-authored an op-ed in today’s Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

The Evangelical Immigration Table’s intensifying push to mobilize local and national evangelical support for bipartisan immigration solutions also includes the “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge, during which hundreds of evangelical congregations in 49 states are reading Scripture for guidance on immigration.

These efforts are building momentum as South Carolina legislators fill key roles in the evolving debate in Congress. Sen. Lindsey Graham is part of a bipartisan group of senators that is drafting legislation, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, whose district includes Greenville and Spartanburg, is the chair of the immigration subcommittee in the House of Representatives.

The following quotes can be attributed to participants in today’s call.

Rev. Jim Goodroe, Director of Missions, Spartanburg County Baptist Network:

“As I’ve gotten to know immigrants, their stories have been varied and shed light on two aspects of immigration. The first is that many of those who are here as undocumented immigrants came legally, but for various reasons it’s been hard for them to go back to their home country. … These are good people who have added so much to our churches, our communities, and our economy …

“[Regarding] the path to citizenship, we’re not talking about amnesty, which has no repercussions. We’re talking about those who are willing to take on the additional responsibilities and obligations of citizenship. … Even the path toward citizenship is tough but needs to be fair …

 

Rev. Trey Doyle, First Baptist Church of York, York, S.C.:

“I believe that through even the most basic and essential practices of the local church in gathering around the Bible to seek the truth of Jesus Christ, we can find answers, we can discover guidance and support of even seemingly difficult issues like that of immigration reform. I believe the radio ads will further solidify the growing base of support for immigration reform. Finally, I also believe the new kind of coalition we are witnessing, the new kind of coalition forming around support for substantial immigration reform, is illustrative of God’s kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven. The congregation I serve with, and I suspect Christians everywhere, count opportunities to participate in the continual unfolding of God’s kingdom — a blessing indeed. … This is about faith for us and putting that faith into action.”

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association:

“The Bible teaching is changing the way evangelical opinion is being expressed on immigration. More and more leaders as well as people in the pews are beginning to speak out and say we want a just, humane immigration reform that will change the gridlock that has currently been dominating the discussion in Washington. … The campaign is rooted in our Christian faith and our belief that every human being is created in the image of God. …

“Once we get to know immigrants and their families and see who they are and the ways that they are contributing to this country and some of the very real challenges that they face, as Christians we are moved to really take action and to get involved.”

Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention:

“This is an issue of conviction, it’s an issue of values, it’s an issue of bringing our biblical values to bear … We need to begin the process of stopping the pain and the suffering and the denial of basic human dignity that goes with a broken immigration policy. We believe this is an imperative for our nation. We believe that there is a comprehensive immigration reform package that can be passed, can be signed by the president, can be put into law … this year. Now is the time to do this. Those congressmen and senators who are standing up and going beyond the partisan divide to try to make this happen need to hear from those who support them …

“South Carolina is important both because Senator Graham has been part of the group of senators that have courageously been taking this issue on, working in a bipartisan manner with his Democratic colleagues as well as Republican colleagues in the Senate. … Lindsey Graham and Trey Gowdy and the other representatives from South Carolina need to hear from those who support them.”

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PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical, Other Faith Leaders Press for Immigration Reform in Meeting with President

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 8, 2013 — Members of the Evangelical Immigration Table and other faith luminaries met with President Obama today to discuss the need for commonsense immigration reform and the building momentum for it in Congress. The meeting took place as evangelical leaders and pastors encourage their flocks to reflect on the Bible’s words regarding how we treat our immigrant neighbors and mobilize in support of a better immigration process.

Evangelical leaders continue to support broad, bipartisan action as leaders in the Senate — four Democrats and four Republicans — develop legislation that will modernize and strengthen our out-of-date immigration process. The 40-day “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge encourages evangelicals to read a passage of scripture daily that relates to immigrants and pray for immigrants in their communities — and encourage their members of Congress to do the same. In addition, pastors are planning media campaigns in key states such as South Carolina to emphasize the urgent need for reform in 2013, including an eventual road to citizenship.

The following quotes can be attributed to faith leaders who met with the president today.

Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief:
“In our meeting, we reiterated the importance of the faith community in not just advocating for immigration reform but in being a bridge to provide services to immigrants if immigration reform passes.  We specifically encouraged the President to consider the implications of passage of reform and to partner with faith-based organizations in helping immigrants in the integration process, specifically by providing immigrant legal service, and English and civics classes.”

Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“I was very encouraged by the immigration reform meeting with the President today. He spoke clearly about his desire to see us achieve passage of legislation this year. While many details remain to be worked out, the big pieces are in place. Secure borders, workplace enforcement, legal status for undocumented immigrants who qualify, and a citizenship process for those who desire to be U.S. citizens are all within reach.”

Jose Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles and Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration:
“Our collective faith groups are prepared to support just and humane reform of a broken immigration system. With the president’s leadership and cooperation between both parties in Congress, we can achieve this goal within the year. We agree with the president and bipartisan Senate leaders who are stressing the importance of a path to citizenship for the undocumented. We should not sanction a permanent underclass in our society.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Today’s meeting invigorated me with hope and optimism. The president’s resolve in conjunction with evangelical support facilitate the prescription for a comprehensive resolution addressing America’s immigration crisis. I am convinced that with prayer and prophetic activism we will live out Matthew 25 and welcome the stranger in the name of Jesus. The collective commitment to incorporate a pathway to citizenship as an integral part of any legislative solution secures a complete integration process. Both the president and faith leaders understand that citizenship must be earned, yet denying it will create a two-tier society attempting to live one dream: the American dream.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“Today’s meeting with President Obama is a clarion sign for Latino Evangelicals that immigration reform is possible. We need strong bipartisan leadership from Republicans and Democrats that finally creates a just and humane solution. Latino Evangelicals stand committed to see this through in ways that provide an earned path to citizenship while addressing any security concerns. Immigration reform now!”

Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners:
“The building momentum for immigration reform is proof that it’s still possible to lift up the common good, and not just political ideology, in Washington, D.C. The faith community has called for political action on immigration for years and is encouraged to see the leadership the president is taking. President Obama made clear how high a priority immigration reform is for him and the White House and that the involvement of the faith community will be an integral part of ensuring it passes. If the bully pulpit of the White House and the pulpits of the faith community speak to the moral issues at stake in this debate, we can accomplish a genuine, bipartisan solution to fixing our broken immigration system. I’m leaving the White House today encouraged that it can and will happen.

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