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. — 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.