MCALLEN, TEXAS, AUGUST 20, 2014 — On Friday, local Colorado and Nebraska faith leaders and public officials joined the Christian Community Development Association in McAllen to tour facilities that help process and meet the immediate needs of family units and unaccompanied minors crossing the border.
The faith leaders gained first-hand knowledge of how communities are working together to address the current humanitarian need, and joined a roundtable discussion with other local and national faith, law enforcement and public sector leaders after the tour to discuss how to support children coming to local communities.
The following quotes are from participants in Friday’s tours and roundtable discussion:
Debra Bartelson, Legislative Policy Analyst and Co-Chair, Denver Latino Commission, Denver, Colo.:
“After my time in McAllen seeing the border relief efforts first-hand, I am left with many questions. The issue is overwhelming, and I am reminded of something Mother Teresa said when faced with enormous need, ‘if you can’t feed the millions, then just feed one.’ We as civic and faith leaders must collaborate with each other to both identify existing needs and combine our resources to do what we can to help.”
Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago, Ill.:
“A delegation of CCDA Board members, staff and members from across the nation traveled to McAllen, TX to get a first-hand look at the humanitarian crisis with the unaccompanied children that is impacting our southern border. Along with being moved by seeing the children, we were inspired by the compassionate response of church, city and community leaders. Like these leaders, we are committed to offering our support as CCDA.”
Susan Shepherd, Councilwoman, Denver City Council:
“My biggest take-away from my time spent at the border in McAllen was how compassionate the response was from all entities, including the public and non-profit sector and the faith community. I was inspired by their grace, strength & commitment under fire. Not one person complained. McAllen has set the bar very high. I hope that if Denver is chosen to receive some of the unaccompanied minors, that we too will rise above the endless squabbling over immigration issues and recognize that these are humans fleeing horrible conditions in their own countries and in desperate need of safety, basic life necessities and compassionate and respectful treatment.”
Dr. Lois Svoboda, Missions Committee, The Presbyterian Church of Fremont, Neb.:
“Being a part of the McAllen border trip, I was able to see first-hand what is happening with refugees crossing our border. What I witnessed was an amazing network of collaboration between city, faith, and law enforcement leaders working together to address the pressing need. The media, who constantly shares the negative, has all but left out what I saw and experienced. There was no hostility only people in leadership who had a welcoming attitude. A leader from the city of McAllen shared that any person who crosses the boundary of McAllen should be welcomed and not asked where they came from. My hope for my Nebraska community is to learn from them and take a step forward to work together. I don’t believe that politicians who comment perpetually on the negative will be able to offer us solutions. We need to start with the faith community and look to them for the moral leadership that they can offer.”
Michelle Warren, Director of Advocacy & Policy Engagement, CCDA; Colorado and Nebraska Coordinator, Evangelical Immigration Table, Denver, Colo.:
“The issues surrounding immigration and our borders continue to loom large. It is very apparent that we do not have a secure border problem in our country but rather a global migration problem. Seeing the border, hearing from local law enforcement, public sector officials and faith leaders all addressing the needs of those crossing the border was both inspiring and insightful. What we hear in the news is not reflective of what is actually taking place. The community network of care that exists in McAllen is that story that should be lifted up. People are working together to meet the needs of people; help is taking place seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.”
WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 22, 2014 — Today the Evangelical Immigration Table is sending a letter to Congress, urging representatives and Senators to preserve laws that protect children and to help respond to migrant children with increased funding.
The letter comes as Congress considers not only the president’s supplemental budget request to respond to children who have migrated to the U.S., but also changes to laws designed to protect victims of human trafficking.
“Evangelicals are guided by Jesus’ admonitions to welcome and protect children (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:37, Luke 18:15-17),” the letter states. “As our nation responds to this humanitarian crisis, we are thankful for laws that protect children and provide for their needs. While our systems are currently stretched, our laws uphold basic child protection principles.
The letter goes on to express concern about the possible weakening of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), enacted in 2008 and reauthorized in 2013. “The TVPRA ensures that victims of trafficking are not only identified and screened properly but that traffickers are penalized and brought to justice,” the letter states.
The letter also calls on Congress to ensure adequate funding for agencies that work with vulnerable immigrants including children, refugees and victims of trafficking: “We urge you to provide the necessary resources and policy guidance to address the current crisis, and then hold
the Administration accountable for fulfilling its responsibilities under the law. Robust funding is needed … Funds must not simply be transferred from one vulnerable population to another.”
The full letter is available here. Below are quotes from Table leaders regarding the letter:
Stephan Bauman, President, World Relief:
“Political expediency should not trump good policy. Many evangelicals worked hard to support the TVPRA in 2008 and in 2012 so to hear about potential rollbacks in protections for unaccompanied children is troubling. Urgent resources are needed to provide care for unaccompanied children, and Congress should support such funding needs without resorting to unnecessary changes in law that will weaken protections for children and be difficult to gain back if passed.
Dr. Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission:
“The refugee situation at the border is a moral crisis. There are no easy fixes, but we must start by seeing these children as what they are: loved by God and created in his image. We need to respond to this crisis in a way that honors both human dignity and national security.”
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Children, created in God’s image, should never be unaccompanied, nor should they be exploited, trafficked or sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. I believe it is wrong for parents to send children to the U.S. border when the primary protective firewall for these children lies in a loving Christ filled home where faith, family and education stand prevalent. Correspondingly, as a nation and as people of faith, we must serve, heal and minister to those that have arrived in our nation because theirs, according to Jesus, is the kingdom of heaven.”
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“The evangelical community has a moral and biblical commitment to protect the most vulnerable. Ensuring due process for these displaced children fleeing violence, and economic deprivation is part of our Christian witness. Yelling at defenseless children and women is not the way forward.”
Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform.
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.”
**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.
‘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
Iglesia El Calvario
2500 West Oak Ridge Road
**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:
World premiere of The Stranger, followed by a panel discussion with national and local evangelical leaders
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
7 p.m. CDT Wednesday, June 4
Park Community Church
1001 N. Crosby Street
Op-Eds Urge Congressional Action
WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 30, 2014— Continuing the efforts of faith leaders across the country calling for action on commonsense immigration reform, three notable national figures have new op-eds today in support of reform.
The leaders all call for an urgent solution to our broken system that separates families and hurts communities.
“Pastors need an answer for undocumented congregants who otherwise obey the law and are seeking a way to get right with the law,” writes Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, in Virginia’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Congress must provide that answer. Until then, there is nothing to point them toward, and the whole body continues to suffer.”
“At its heart, immigration reform is about people, not politics,” Jim Wallis, President and Founder of Sojourners, says in a National Journal piece. “Inspired by the teachings of our faith and deeply concerned about the suffering and degradation the current system imposes on millions of people created in God’s image, evangelicals and many other people of faith have been steadfast in our support for congressional action to fix and heal this moral crisis.”
Elsewhere in the faith community, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops brought prayers and urgency to Washington with Mass on Capitol Hill Thursday, following its border Mass in April.
“Now is the time for the House to pass common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform that the American people support and the American economy needs,” writes Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami in The Hill. “This issue isn’t just about immigrant communities, it’s about our values and identity as a nation.”
Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform.
WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 2, 2014 — On Tuesday, more than 250 pastors from 25 states traveled to Washington to meet with their members of Congress, pray for reform and urge Congress on behalf of their congregations to vote on reform this year.
“Immigration reform offers the finest opportunity we in the United States have had to put politics aside and do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time,” said Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, as reported by the Christian Post.
The day followed 17 press events featuring local pastors in 13 states over 10 days.
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 29, 2014 — More than 250 local evangelical pastors from 25 states are on Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress and urge a vote this year on immigration reform.
Pastors attended a worship service this morning, and meetings are scheduled this afternoon with more than 100 rank-and-file members of Congress, most of them Republican. Today’s event comes on the heels of 17 local press events in 13 states over a 10-day stretch, at which pastors stressed the urgency for reform and highlighted their trip.
At a press conference this morning, leaders and local pastors from across the evangelical spectrum spoke about the urgency for action:
Eugene Cho, Pastor, Quest Church, Seattle:
“I was 6 years old when my family immigrated to this country. I am grateful not only for my parents’ sacrifice but for the hospitality of this amazing country. I am truly a grateful American citizen. I am in deep support of immigration reform — not only because of my personal story, but also because of the moral imperative given to us by Scripture. I am a pastor, not a politician, and I don’t like politics. But I acknowledge that we must engage politically because it is the only way to fix systems that impact people. So today I am here to tell our members of Congress that it is time to do their jobs.”
Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor, Vineyard Columbus, Columbus, Ohio:
“For me, immigration reform is not a political or partisan issue. It’s a moral issue and it’s a family issue. Our congregation has people from 120 different countries. We’ve seen married couples separated, mothers taken away from their children and fathers deported because of the broken immigration system. We need reform and we need it now.”
Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas:
“Immigration reform offers the finest opportunity we in the United States have had to put politics aside and do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time. For all the criticism heaped on the USA, we remain the most generous and kind country in the world. With no hint at amnesty, with determination to have a republic ruled by law, let us wrap our arms around all the well-meaning people who have sought the umbrella of America’s protection and opportunity.”
John Perkins, Chairman Emeritus and Co-founder, Christian Community Development Association:
“Fifty years ago the African-American community longed to be heard, and unfortunately much of the evangelical community was not standing with us. However, I’m absolutely honored to be standing today with my brothers and sisters looking forward, recognizing that the urgency of the now is upon us. It is time for us to make a decision for immigration reform.”
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; and Pastor of The Lamb’s Church, New York City:
“Evangelicals believe that now is the time to cross the proverbial Rubicon on immigration reform. It’s the right thing to do. Every day there’s a delay, families, particularly children, continue to suffer. As a pastor and parent my urgent prayer is for a vote on immigration reform this year.”
Rev. Althea C Taylor, Executive Pastor, Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene, New York City:
“A society is judged on the treatment of the most vulnerable among them. Undocumented immigrants represent some of the most vulnerable within our society. As a nation anchored in caring for the inalienable rights of humanity, our moral compass is being tested by how we care for undocumented Immigrants amongst us. Ignoring the plight of undocumented immigrants speaks to the very fabric of our moral integrity as a nation.”
Bryant Wright, Senior Pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga.; President, Southern Baptist Convention, 2010 to 2012:
“I’m here today because in 2011, the Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly approved a resolution on immigration reform. The leadership of the convention was concerned that so many conservative Christians were having their views shaped by talk radio and other news outlets, and we wanted them to come to a position shaped by Biblical teaching. Now it’s time to bring these Biblical teachings to our leaders in Washington, D.C., and ask for immigration reform this year.”
Local Pastors to Fly to D.C., Meet with Members of Congress Tuesday
**For a recording of today’s call click here.**
CHICAGO, APRIL 28, 2014 — Top Illinois evangelical leaders joined a telephonic press conference today to highlight the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote on immigration reform.
The press conference comes a day before the pastors travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress and highlight the moral imperatives for immigration reform. And it will build on the momentum of last week’s support for reform from Illinois Republican and business leaders.
The following are quotes from pastors on today’s call:
Noel Castellanos, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago:
“I am so excited to see so many key evangelical leaders in Illinois fully engaged in advocating for a just and commonsense reform of our broken immigration system. Along with serving our immigrant brothers and sister in our churches, we will also urge members of the House to introduce and pass immigration legislation immediately.”
Chris McElwee, Local Impact Pastor, Wheaton Bible Church, West Chicago:
“As we examine what the Bible has to say about the ‘stranger’ living in our communities and we meet more and more immigrants in our neighborhood, we believe now more than ever that our immigration system is broken and in need of repair. This is an important issue for all Christians, and not just the immigrant. We urge both parties in Congress to come together and pass new legislation in order to create a just immigration system.”
Bertie Holmgren, Senior Associate Pastor, First Free Rockford:
“It is very exciting to see the momentum building behind immigration reform, particularly within the church, which is letting its voice be heard. It is imperative that the church be able to bring some grace and some common sense to the discussion on immigration issues, which are too often dominated by harsh rhetoric. That is the primary focus of the evangelical community in this debate: to stop and say, ‘What does God have to say about how we are to treat immigrants?’ ”
Aaron Monts, Pastor of Missions & Outreach, South Side Christian Church, Springfield:
“More than 250 pastors from 25 states will be descending upon Washington, D.C., tomorrow to advocate for sensible immigration reform with our elected representatives. As pastors we see in our congregations the effects of a broken immigration system tearing the lives of families apart. Our system is not only broken but destructive to the fabric of our society and our nation. This is a family values issue that must be resolved, and we are urging Congress to take action today because every day we wait, more families are torn apart.”
Luis Ruiz, Pastor, Rios de Aguas Vivas, Chicago:
“We seem to forget that one of the main lessons Jesus Christ taught us is to love our neighbors. President Obama and our legislators need to revisit our policies through the eyes of love — for the children who have no parents, the parents who are afraid to drive to work, and the families that have no stability in their communities. We need to continue letting our legislators and our other officials know that the church is here, and it needs to, wants to, and is available to help these families, but it will also be pushing along the wheels of progress on immigration reform.”