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Illinois Evangelical Leaders Send Letter to Senators Regarding Refugees

 CHICAGO, DECEMBER 17, 2015 — Today, evangelical leaders from Illinois are sending a letter to Sens. Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin, calling on the congressmen, as well as Gov. Bruce Rauner, to show compassion and to welcome Syrian refugees into the state.

The 17 signatories remind the senators of the United States’ history as a safe haven for those fleeing from persecution, and the extensive security system in place for refugees to safeguard our nation from harm. It comes after Rauner said in November that the state would stop accepting refugees.

“Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of travelers to the U.S. Our current system has been time-tested and effective,” the letter reads. “With more than 3 million refugees admitted to the U.S. since the 1970s, there has never been a terrorist attack perpetrated in U.S. by an individual admitted through the refugee resettlement program.

“We should take caution—and we are—but we also cannot let fear drive us to turn away, even temporarily, to those fleeing persecution. This does not reflect the moral courage and compassion characteristic of our great nation and great state of Illinois.”

“As a resident of Chicago and a member of the Irving Park community in Chicago, I, and the many congregations that we are a part of through City First, would like our Illinois legislators to know that we welcome immigrants and refugees in our area,” said signatory Rev. Mark D. Johnson, Pastor/Executive Director, Tapestry Fellowship/City First Foundation, Chicago. “We stand for the freedom and opportunity of millions in America and throughout the world. We ask that all of our legislators prayerfully enact policies that reflect compassion and justice.”

“As Christ followers, welcoming the stranger is our indisputable biblical call,” said Liz Dong, Midwest Regional Mobilizer for the Evangelical Immigration Table. “Many evangelical churches and leaders here in Illinois and around the country understand that a compassionate response to receiving refugees and immigrants does not have to come at the expense of security. America has led the way in being a refuge for the persecuted and the vulnerable. We hope we will not forsake that heritage.”

Documentary Explores Biblical Response to Immigration

‘The Stranger’ to Premiere in Tampa and Orlando Tonight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Film Screenings Information:

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

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

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

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

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Florida Faith Leaders Applaud Republican Standards on Immigration Reform

Major Commitment from House Leadership Propels Reform Forward

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Thursday, House Republicans released their standards for immigration reform. The standards were met with broad support among top Florida faith leaders, who lauded the movement toward much-needed reform and called on Congress to pass reform this year.

The following are quotes from Florida faith leaders:

Kevin Johnson, Missions Pastor, New Life Christian Fellowship, Jacksonville:
“I am not a politician therefore I cannot write legislation, but I am a Christian therefore I can love. Something’s not right when 88% of white evangelicals say that their views on immigration are primarily influenced by concerns other than their Christian faith. If we’re not looking at people through the eyes of love, then we’ll never be able to make disciples of all ethnic groups.”

Darren Sullivan, Executive Pastor of Multiplication Chets Creek Church, Jacksonville:
“Immigration reform is not only a moral imperative but a Biblical one too. All Americans will benefit from our governmental leaders working together to fix this problem. A strong immigration policy leads to a strong economy for all to benefit from.”

David Tarkington, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Orange Park:
“When it comes to comprehensive immigration reform, political identifiers and lines are drawn immediately. This issue has been kicked down the road for generations and the time has now come to implement a workable, honest, and constitutionally sound solution…. While the standards the Republican leadership of Congress released for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws are not perfect (and neither is the Senate’s proposal) they mark the start of a discussion that will eventually lead to reform.”

Jose Vega, Pastor, Renacer Iglesia Bautista, Jacksonville:
“As a Hispanic pastor, I am pleased to see that the House Republicans are setting a pace towards immigration reform. My hope is that they will reflect biblical values. As a minister I experience with members of the church the sadness of the separation from their love ones and children. I am left to answer questions such as ‘where is my dad’ or a wife asking ‘what can I do now?’ Real immigration reform will bring peace of mind to many families in Jacksonville today and provide certainty of family unity tomorrow.”

Georgia Faith Leaders Applaud Republican Standards on Immigration Reform

Major Commitment from House Leadership Propels Reform Forward

ATLANTA, Ga. — On Thursday, House Republicans released their standards for immigration reform. The standards were met with broad support among top Georgia faith leaders, who lauded the movement toward much-needed reform and called on Congress to pass reform this year.

The following are quotes from Georgia faith leaders:

Dr. Shawn Duncan, Community Chaplain, EIRO, Atlanta:
“GOP Leaders, thank you for coming to the table to outline principles that offer a worthwhile place to begin. I especially am grateful for the respect and dignity extended to the undocumented youth among us. As a faith leader who is committed to the biblical command to welcome the stranger, I ask, and will continue praying, that you will stay open to dialogue so that a just and fair path forward can be created in 2014.”

Dr. David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life, Mercer University, Atlanta:
“I applaud the House GOP for releasing its standards for immigration reform. This is an important step toward reaching agreement on this critical issue.”

Rev. Jim Moon, Jr., Lead Pastor and Elder, Crosspoint Encuentro Church, Smyrna:
“It is time for America’s government leaders to work together to ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is time to seek justice for the oppressed and improve liberty for all within our borders. It is time for immigration reform.”

Raymond Partolan, President, Student Government Association, Mercer University, Atlanta:
“Although there are some aspects of the House GOP’s document which I disagree, I do acknowledge that the establishment of these principles provides a framework for the Democrats and Republicans to work together in a bipartisan manner to bring about the necessary changes to our country’s broken immigration system. It’s pleasing to me, especially, to see that Speaker Boehner and his colleagues are willing to move forward with a pathway towards legal residence and citizenship for certain qualified youth.”

John Ward, Church Mobilizer, Encompass World Partners, Atlanta:
“My hope is that this is beginning of the end to a very long journey for millions of people who have been waiting for years to walk the path towards legal statues. The Republican standards for immigration reform are a way forward and a win for our friends in Atlanta and around the country. We are praying for the right outcomes in the days ahead.”

Jim Wehner, Founder and President, FCS Urban Ministries, Atlanta:
“I am glad to see the Republican standards for immigration reform in writing. Though there is much to work on to improve these standards, they form a solid starting place.  It makes me hopeful that we could be moving towards reforming a system that we all agree is broken.”

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