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Category Archive for: "Statements and Press Releases"

More than 250 Local Evangelical Pastors Meet with Congress, Urge Votes on Immigration Reform

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.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Illinois Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

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.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Springfield Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

Local Pastors Speak a Day Before Flying to D.C.

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio, APRIL, 28, 2014 — Top Springfield-area evangelical leaders met for a 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 featured local pastors who will discuss the moral imperatives for immigration reform, their efforts during the April congressional recess and their #Pray4Reform trip Tuesday to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress.

The following quotes are from pastors at today’s press conference:

Jesse Bowers, Missions Leader, Apex Community Church, Dayton:
“When a person tries to live out Scripture and truly love their neighbors as themselves, it becomes difficult to truly help humans who are hiding in fear from a system that needs change. My advocacy for reform comes not from a political position, but from a heart that desires to fully love those who some in society easily consider loveless.”

Dr. William Brown, Chancellor, Cedarville University, Cedarville:
“Many evangelical leaders are supporting immigration reform for moral reasons. Both in the Old and the New Testament, the call for God’s people is to care for those who for whatever reason are on the fringes of society. We see it as faithfulness to the Gospel call to love our neighbors. It’s hard to imagine Jesus telling us to either deport the undocumented or make them so miserable that they leave on their own. This is a unique opportunity for America. We are asking our representatives, Speaker Boehner and Congressman Turner, to be in the ranks of those who are helping to get immigration reform passed.”

Jack Legg, Lay Leader, Vineyard Springfield:
“As a Christian leader, I am called to love my neighbor. I do a great disservice to my neighbor if I debate the issue of immigration reform without knowing the individual people and families in my neighborhood who are most impacted by these issues. When one part of the Body hurts, the whole body hurts. I call on Speaker Boehner to bring this issue to the floor so Congress can pass sensible immigration reform that protects family unity, maintains fairness to the taxpayer, and, most of all, creates a pathway to citizenship for my amazing neighbors who bring so much good to this community.”

Cameron Luther, Student, Catholic Central School, Springfield:
“I support immigration reform because I want to see Springfield once again become the thriving city that I have heard so much about. Many of my friends are planning on vacating Springfield after they graduate from college because there aren’t enough high-paying, technology-based jobs in our area. As people leave our city, a hole is opening up, but I believe that immigrants can help stop the bleeding. Immigrants can help attract new businesses, fill vacant housing, and most of all, they bring an attitude of hope to Springfield. If we only provide them with a city that supports them, I think that immigrants will make Springfield great again.”

Jose Salas, Pastor, Iglesia Hispana Emanuel, Springfield:
“Many Latino Christians who live or work here in Springfield live in fear of being detained or deported. They came here because Springfield is a good place to live and because back in Mexico or Guatemala they would only be able to make a few dollars a day, not enough to feed their families. Many want to get right with the law, but our current system doesn’t provide a way for them to do that. The wait to come legally is often over 15 years and many have no hope of ever getting a green card.”

Monserrate Salas, Iglesia Hispana Emanuel, Springfield:
“I see the toll that this is taking on families and children right here in the Miami Valley. When moms and dads are detained or deported, the wage earners are taken out of the family and the children can’t survive without help. This is a tragedy for families. We support the deportation of people who are selling drugs or committing other serious crimes, but to deport people with minor traffic violations who came here just so that they could support their families seems like a far cry from Jesus’ call to welcome strangers and love them as we love ourselves.”

Jason Zastrow, Growing Teacher Lead, Apex Community Church, Dayton:
“Evangelicals, especially young evangelicals, care deeply about issues of justice. Immigration reform has energized them. They see it as their chance to be a part of something historic. Many evangelical churches regret that they didn’t actively support the civil rights movement. This generation wants to make sure that they don’t repeat that mistake. They understand that telling the Gospel story and living it out through advocacy for justice go hand in hand.”

Carl Ruby, Executive Director, Welcome Springfield; Ohio Director, Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform:
“This delegation is especially significant because we need to let Speaker Boehner and Congressmen Turner, Chabot , Wenstrup and Tiberi know that people of faith are ready to stand with them on this issue. Ohio is a great Midwestern state that values hard work and hospitality. We want our congressmen and congresswomen to take the lead in getting immigration reform passed this year.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Cincinnati Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

Local Pastors Speak a Day Before Flying to D.C.

CINCINNATI, APRIL 28, 2014 — Top Cincinnati-area evangelical leaders met for a press conference today to highlight the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote on immigration reform.

Local pastors discussed the moral imperatives for immigration reform, their efforts during the April congressional recess and their #Pray4Reform trip Tuesday to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress.

The following quotes are from pastors at today’s press conference:

Isis Canel, Pastor, La Viña Church, Cincinnati:
“As a wife and a mother, I plead with Congressman Chabot to listen to his heart. They just want the same chance that other waves of immigrants have enjoyed; the chance to work hard, save their money, and help their children live safe lives and get a good education. I hope that our presence in Washington will cause Congressman Chabot and other members of Congress to humble themselves before God and obey Jesus’s call to welcome the strangers and to care for the least of these.”

Mynor Canel, Pastor, La Viña Church, Cincinnati:
“My wife and I are going to Washington tomorrow because this issue affects our congregation. We worship in Spanish at La Viña so our congregation is composed of many first generation immigrants, people who came here to feed their families. Some left places where the violence was unbearable and they feared for the safety of their children. If there had been a way for them to come legally they would have done that rather than risk their lives in the desert, but the system that existed at Ellis Island no longer exists. Our people either can’t enter at all, or face a line that is 15 or 20 years long to get a green card. You can’t wait that long when your 5-year-old is hungry.”

Rich Jones, Associate Pastor for Students & their Families, Northminster Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati:
“This may be some of the most important human-rights-oriented legislation since the Civil Rights act of 1964. As a Presbyterian pastor, I work with students and their families in order to bring them into community with God, others, and their neighbors, whoever they may be. For me this isn’t just a political issue, it’s about who are as a society. I think what we should do as persons of faith is pretty clear in Scripture and in practice. We are blessed to live in a country where we can have a say in changing laws. I hope that this event will help Congressmen Chabot and Wenstrup, and that Speaker Boehner understands the sense of urgency that we feel about this issue.”

Peter Matthews, Pastor, Eden Chapel United Methodist Church, Cincinnati:
“Some may wonder why a bunch of pastors are taking the time to go to D.C., especially if we have congregations who are relatively untouched by this issue. They asked King that when he went to Birmingham and his reply was, ‘I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.’ I’m getting on a plane and going to Washington tomorrow because there is injustice in our land when it comes to our treatment of immigrants. Fifty years ago segregation was a stain on America’s reputation. I fear that if we don’t change our immigration policy, the detainment centers and mass deportations of otherwise law-abiding moms and dads will go down in history with segregated lunch counters and the Japanese internment camps.”

Carl Ruby, Executive Director, Welcome Springfield; Ohio Director, Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform:
“This delegation is especially significant because we need to let Congressman Wenstrup and Congressman Chabot know that people of faith are ready to stand with them on this issue. Ohio is a great Midwestern state that values hard work and hospitality. We want our congressmen and congresswomen to take the lead in getting immigration reform passed this year.”

Joshua Stoxen, Pastor, Elder, Vineyard Central Church, Norwood:
“Our nation’s current immigration policy is one marked by fear, confusion and injustice. As a person of faith, I believe God asks those in positions of power to protect the vulnerable and work on behalf of the marginalized. Unfortunately, the brokenness of our current immigration system often increases immigrants’ vulnerability and marginalization, not least of which through the fostering of inhumane and exploitive working conditions for those who are undocumented. The Evangelical Immigration Table’s bipartisan principles for immigration reform provide a realistic, just and helpful way forward. I am hopeful that current members of Congress, including Representative Wenstrup and Representative Chabot, will have the moral courage to support such reform, even in the face of partisan and election-year pressures.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Louisiana Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

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

NEW ORLEANS, APRIL 25, 2014 — Top Louisiana evangelical leaders joined a telephonic press call Thursday to highlight the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote on immigration reform.

On the call, local pastors discussed the moral imperatives for immigration reform, their efforts during the April congressional recess and their Tuesday #Pray4Reform trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress.

The following are quotes from Louisiana evangelical leaders involved in these efforts:

Wade Moody, Pastor, Iglesia VIDA Assembly of God Church, New Orleans:
“As pastors we always have to go to our Scripture, and the Scripture tells us that we must welcome the stranger among us. Immigration reform is something much greater than any political party or any type of tool to get votes. This is something to help families, to help children, to help marriages that are being destroyed. We can’t keep pushing this for another time, because the more days Congress pushes this back, the more families are being divided.”

David Epstein, President/Minister, Faith Works:
“We’re committed to business ownership for those who come to this country with a dream of a better life for their family. Not only is this how America was built, it improves the economy, adds jobs, and makes things better for everyone else too. People came here centuries ago who weren’t afraid of hard work and sacrifice, and now their grandchildren are prosperous. We can give that gift to those who come here now.”

Dr. Rick Hertless, Evangelist, Singer, Author, Radio Host of “His Gospel Power”:
“I’m an evangelist by calling, but I’m passionate about this issue of immigration because I see it affect so many lives. As evangelical leaders we’re calling for a bipartisan solution to immigration. We’re not supporting any bill, we’re not opposing any bill — that’s for our lawmakers who we elected to do. But we’re asking that they adhere to our principles of respecting the God-given dignity of every person, protecting the unity of immediate family, respecting the rule of the law, ensuring fairness to the taxpayers, and creating a path to legal status or citizenship. This issue is vital for our country and vital for Louisiana.”

Gary Maroney, Vice President, Louisiana Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists:
“Immigration is a vital issue facing our nation as well as a Scriptural issue of how we are to treat our brothers. We desire Congress to act and address this issue according to Biblical principles. As an evangelist, I see this issue affect many lives around the country. The system is broken, but if addressed and dealt with, it will affect every American citizen. That is why I am going to Washington to speak to our representatives. The time to act is now!”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Phoenix Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

Local Pastors to Fly to D.C., Meet with Members of Congress Tuesday

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

PHOENIX, APRIL 25, 2014 — On a press call today, top Phoenix evangelical leaders highlighted the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote this year on immigration reform.

The press conference featured local pastors who will discuss the moral imperatives for immigration reform, their efforts during the April congressional recess and their Tuesday #Pray4Reform trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress.

The following quotes are from Arizona pastors on today’s call:

Adam Estle, Arizona Church Mobilizer, Evangelical Immigration Table, Peoria:
“Next week will be the fifth time since December 2012 that evangelical pastors have headed to Washington to advocate for immigration reform on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters. As faith leaders, we believe we are mandated by God to stand for the vulnerable. As followers of Jesus, we are convinced that His words in Matthew 25 apply to this present opportunity to ‘welcome the stranger’ in our communities. We hope and pray that our members of Congress will lead on fixing our terribly broken immigration system as quickly as possible. Immigration reform is a matter of when, not if, and every day that passes without reform adds to the suffering of our communities.”

Bob Hake, Lead Pastor, Orangewood Church of the Nazarene, Phoenix:
“It’s my privilege to join hundreds of pastors from around the country in Washington, D.C., next week for the Pastors for Reform event. We’ll be meeting with members of Congress sharing our concerns over our nation’s broken immigration system. Every day I see in lives of my church members and community the harmful effects of a system that is so severely broken and in need of immediate reform. Extreme poverty, homelessness and hunger are the realities in my community resulting from our nation’s leaders’ reluctance to pass commonsense reform. We need Congress to act now voting on reform that address the crisis and stabilizes our families and community.”

Ryan Nuñez, Executive Pastor, Palm Valley Church, Goodyear:
“I am a product of immigration. My grandfather led churches for migrants and my grandmother was an immigrant from Canada. Immigration is part of my heritage, and yet for a long time I stayed on the sidelines on this issue because I have operated under the assumption that the church should stay out of politics. I still hold this view; however, I have become convinced that as a pastor I need to speak out on what the Bible says about certain issues. Immigration reform is one of these issues. Our role on this topic is clear from a Biblical perspective. There is a need for reform that balances the Biblical principles of compassion and care for the immigrant with the call to follow the rule of law and respect the authority placed over us. This is a complicated balance, but not impossible. People and families that God loves hang in the balance as meaningful reform is debated.”

Chris Schutte, Lead Pastor, Christ Church Anglican, Phoenix:
“As a pastor, I see the effects of our broken immigration system nearly every day. It’s well past time that our leaders come together to craft a solution that upholds the rule of law, respects the dignity and integrity of individuals and families, allows labor needs to be met in a way that honors both the employer and the worker, and, finally, finds a way to justly and compassionately allow hard-working and otherwise law-abiding folks who are undocumented to embark on an earned path to legalization and, eventually, citizenship.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Missouri Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

Local Pastors to Fly to D.C., Meet with Members of Congress Tuesday

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., APRIL 25, 2014 — Top Missouri evangelical leaders met for a press conference Thursday to highlight the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote on immigration reform.

The press conference featured local pastors who will discuss the moral imperatives for immigration reform, their efforts during the April congressional recess and their Tuesday #Pray4Reform trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress.

The following are quotes from pastors at Thursday’s press conference:

Noah Angel, Pastor, Familia Cristiana International:
“As Ministers and people of faith we are called to be the voice of those who have no voice and defend the rights of all who are destitute, the poor and the needy. As we continue to pray for our nation and for wisdom for the ones who are the decision makers. We also pray and move into action for a moral and dignifying solution to the immigration issue at hand. It is time to act and move forward bringing into light the lives of those who had lived in the shadows for way too long. They are real people, with the same type of dreams and aspirations as anyone else. Let’s give them a chance.”

Ken McCune, Missouri Baptist Church Planting Strategist:
“As a follower of Jesus Christ I believe His teachings on how to relate to the foreign born, and our obedience to the laws of the land as good citizens, must be taken seriously. It is in that vein that I am excited to participate with those of the Evangelical Immigration Table in proposing reasonable solutions to immigration issues in our country that demonstrate love for immigrants, benefit our country, and honor the Lord.”

Jason Schoff, Director of Latino Outreach, Mission Adelante:
“When I read the Scriptures, I see an overwhelming call from God to take care of foreigners and treat them justly. Our current immigration laws are broken and offer no compassion to vulnerable immigrants who are often fighting to provide for their families. This causes families to suffer and we must address this crucial issue now with reform instead of allowing the status quo to go on. I stand with evangelical leaders who have signed the Evangelical Immigration Table’s principles calling for reform.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Houston Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

Local Pastors Preview Tuesday Meetings with Congress

HOUSTON, APRIL 24, 2014 — Top Texas evangelical leaders met for a 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 will featured local pastors and leaders who discussed the moral imperatives for immigration reform, their efforts during the April congressional recess and their April 29 #Pray4Reform trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress. It follows Tuesday’s Texas statewide press call.

The following quotes are from pastors at today’s press conference:

Rev. Harvey Clemons Jr., Pastor, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Houston:
“As Christians, we see the need for comprehensive immigration reform arriving from Jesus’ teachings to see him in the least of these. For too long, a broken immigration system has hurt our country by fracturing our families and excluding the intellect, gifts and talent of our undocumented young people from our workforce and our communities. It is time for our national leaders to form compassionate and balanced policies that treat immigrants with the dignity due to all God’s children and that help our nation realize our hopes for a more perfect union.”

Pastor Roy Guel, Pastor, Sagemont en Español, Houston:
“I am overwhelmed by the needs of many Hispanics in our community. They have sacrificed much to get to our great country of opportunity. They come fleeing both economic hardship and, many times, physical harm and danger. Every face has a story behind it and every person matters. Immigration reform transcends politics and simple economics. These people have lived in the shadows in the most powerful, prosperous and free country. In the day of judgment, how will our country be judged as we have allowed these forgotten people to live off the scraps that fall from our collective tables?”

Brenda Kirk, Church Mobilizer, Evangelical Immigration Table, Atascocita:
“I pray that every Christian joins us in prayer and action, encouraging Congress to vote on immigration reform this year. God calls us to love the stranger in our midst and to treat them as native born (Leviticus 19:33-34). Many biblical teachings guide Christians on this issue of immigration. We have encouraged pastors to address immigration within their churches, and they have. The education and prayers are moving us forward.”

Pastor Tim Moore, Senior Pastor, Walk Worthy Baptist Church; Legislative Liaison, Southern Baptists of Texas Commission, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Round Rock:
“I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. More importantly, I don’t want to be on the wrong side of the Gospel. The heart of God is always forgiveness and reconciliation. It’s time for a vote on immigration reform.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Metro Atlanta Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

Local Pastors to Fly to D.C., Meet with Members of Congress Tuesday

TUCKER, GA., APRIL 24, 2014 — Top Atlanta-area evangelical leaders met for a press conference Thursday to highlight the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote on immigration reform.

The press conference featured local pastors who will discuss the moral imperatives for immigration reform, their efforts during the April congressional recess and their Tuesday #Pray4Reform trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress.

The following are quotes from pastors at today’s press conference:

Dr. Shawn Duncan, Community Chaplain, EIRO, Tucker:
“Immigration reform matters to me because my life has been made so much richer by the immigrants — documented and undocumented —who have come into my life. As a pastor I know that immigration reform is consistent with a biblical vision for our society. As an American I know that immigration reform is consistent with the values of justice, equality and freedom that have built this great nation.”

Ken Hall, Senior Pastor, Lilburn First Baptist Church, Lilburn:
“Being the pastor of a church with 16 language and cultural congregations, I have seen firsthand how a lack of immigration reform has caused great difficulties, hardships and challenges for both families and churches. Something must be done and it needs to be done quickly.”

Chalis Montgomery, Director of Children’s Ministry, Northview Christian Church, Lawrenceville:
“My perspective on immigration reform is shaped by the fears and struggles of the children within my community. Who can with clean conscience look into the eyes of a child and say that there is justice in a law that threatens to leave them motherless, fatherless, or orphaned? Even the preschoolers in my ministry would condemn such a law as unjust and unlike the Christ they know. I am convicted to pray for reform by the words of Christ Jesus.”

David Park, Senior Pastor, Open Table Community, EFCA, Chamblee:
“Cultivating a heart for immigrants in our church has had some wonderful side effects: hospitality and kindness mean more (Matt. 25); diversity in the body makes the Gospel more credible (Acts 11); and ultimately, relationships with the immigrants in our midst add vitality to our stories of faith in action (James 2).”

Jim Payne, Co-Pastor, Cross Point Encuentro, PCA, Smyrna:
“Immigration and the Pastors for Reform movement matter to me because I am friends with and pastor to many immigrants, both documented and undocumented. Our church is made up of many cultures and two languages (English and Spanish), but we treat each other as one united family. So, when immigrant members of our church family suffer, we all suffer together. I lend my voice to this movement for reform because I long to see immigrants like my friends treated with human dignity, freed from the fear of separation from their immediate families, and given a just and fair path toward legal status in the United States.”

Stephen Reeves, Associate Coordinator for Advocacy, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur:
“We need comprehensive immigration reform now. Too many families are torn apart and too many lives are in limbo due to our broken system. Americans deserve a clear and consistent policy that promotes both security and human dignity. Our churches, pastors, ministries and members should not be forced to wait any longer. It is time for Congress to act, confident that millions of American Christians across the theological and political spectrum support reform.”

Joshua Sieweke, Atlanta Office Director, World Relief Atlanta:
“Immigration is important to affirm and preserve the ideals that make this country so great. We are a nation of immigrants. The minute we fail to recognize that is the minute we fail to recognize ourselves.”

Dr. Randy Shepley, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Tucker:
“Our nation needs immigration reform because families are enduring separation from their loved ones, a clear and reasonable path to legal status and/or citizenship for immigrants is unavailable, our nation is tired of immigration polarization, and most importantly because all persons are created with God-given dignity that requires followers of Jesus to act on behalf of all with love and justice.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Michigan Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

Local Pastors to Fly to D.C., Meet with Members of Congress Tuesday

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., APRIL 24, 2014 — Top Grand Rapids area evangelical leaders met for a 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 featured local pastors who will discuss the moral imperatives for immigration reform, their efforts during the April congressional recess and their Tuesday #Pray4Reform trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress.

The following are quotes from local pastors at today’s press conference and other pastors who will be in Washington on Tuesday:

Brian Bennett, Pastor, Overflow Church, Benton Harbor:
“Immigration reform is important to me as a Christian community leader because of Jesus’ command to love our neighbor and the clear heart God has for love, mercy, and justice found throughout Scripture. I also have friends who are affected personally by the current debate, who are waiting for a visa, and whose lives in this generation are being affected by the failure of the previous generation to properly address the issue.”

Jacci Busch, Pastor, McBain Christian Reformed Church, McBain:
“I live in a farming community that hires quite a few immigrant workers. The farmers and other employers want to do what’s right by their employees, and many immigrants desire to do what’s right as well. Both sides often feel trapped by the laws of our country.”

Randy Buursma, Pastor, First Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids:
“Immigration reform must respond to mothers and fathers who live daily with the threat of deportation and separation from their families. Immigration reform will send a message as to the type of nation we are becoming. Will we be guided by the legacy of our own families who have experienced the gift of citizenship, or will we become a frightened and self-centered people who turn their backs on the needs of others?”

Dale Dalman, Pastor, Esperanza Covenant Church, Grand Rapids:
“I am praying for immigration reform because the current system does not work. It divides families and does not encourage people to follow the rule of law. Comprehensive immigration reform is needed to unite and strengthen families and encourage people to make a positive contribution to our nation.”

Janelle Koolhaas, Pastor, Reformed Church in America, Holland:
“As a pastor, I am most concerned with how our broken immigration system affects families’ and individuals’ lives. In a nation that so often claims a rich moral heritage and values, it is strange to me that we are not eager to reshape our immigration laws so as to demonstrate the value and dignity of persons’ lives, and the importance keeping families together.”

Adam Lipscomb, Lead Pastor, City Life Wesleyan Church, Grand Rapids:
“Immigration reform is important to me because undocumented immigrants are my neighbors, friends, colleagues in ministry and part of our church. They have become part of the fabric of our community. And when they are deported, it rips not only their own families apart, but leaves a tattered hole in many of the communities that I love.”

Angel Lopez, Student, Western Theological Seminary, Holland:
“When any group consistently falls between the cracks or is off the radar, it cannot but weaken the larger community. Let’s face it: Undocumented immigrants already play a vital role in our economy and society. For the sake of both the undocumented person and the local community in which he or she lives, we must find a better way to live and work together.”
Daren Penwell, Pastor, Bailey Christian Church, Bailey:
“Since I minister in the fruit ride area of West Michigan, I come into regular contact with those impacted by immigration issues. I minister to families who must wrestle with the practical implications of one or both parents who are undocumented and for whom the challenges of documentation are daunting and may even first involve a dangerous journey back home. Balancing border safety, national budgetary concerns and, more importantly, the fact that real people made in the image of God with real families are involved seems overwhelming. But I believe commonsense solutions can and must be developed and articulated for the benefit of our nation, as well as for the many who simply want to work hard to supply for the needs of their families.”

Kris VanEngen, Congregational Justice Mobilizer, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Grand Rapids:
“Families and faith, business, education, agriculture and law enforcement leaders all say the immigration system is broken to a point of being inhumane. It doesn’t have to be this way. There is no defensible reason to keep the status quo. As Christians we cannot condone this injustice. It’s time to vote for a more just immigration system.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

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