Cincinnati Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

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

CINCINNATI — 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.”

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