Southern Baptists in Texas Embrace Immigration Reform

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Southern Baptists in Texas Embrace Immigration Reform

More than a Dozen Leaders Sign Principles During Evangelism Conference

HOUSTON, MARCH 3, 2014— Support for immigration reform among conservative religious leaders in Texas continues to grow. At last week’s Southern Baptists of Texas Evangelism Conference, 17 evangelical leaders expressed their support for the Evangelical Immigration Table’s Statement of Principles on immigration reform for the first time.

The 17 new pastors (full list below) include nationally prominent leaders Matt Chandler and Dr. Bart Barber.

The following are quotes from pastors who signed the principles last week:

Dr. Bart Barber, First Vice President, Southern Baptist Convention; Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Farmersville:
“Immigration policy is both a Great Commission and a Great Commandment issue. It’s a Great Commission issue because immigration brings to the doorsteps of our churches millions of lost people whom we would otherwise need to find in order to share the gospel with them. It’s a Great Commandment issue because loving our neighbors as ourselves puts the harsher rhetoric and plans for immigration reform straight off of the table for us. I’m thankful for the opportunity to state publicly my agreement with the principles of the Evangelical Immigration Table.”

Pastor Gilbert Chavez, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention:

“I think it’s important for Christians to be engaged in social issues, and immigration is one of them. Evangelical Christians should share grace with people who are coming here and find a way to reach them so that they can become productive citizens of our nation. I believe that Evangelical Christians should have a proper dialogue about this critical issue.”

Jim Holcombe, Evangelist, Jim Holcombe Ministries, Killeen:
“Republicans need to follow the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform. Lawmakers also need to do what’s in the Constitution, and presidents of both parties simply haven’t enforced the law. It’s time for reform.”

The full list of new signatories:
· Dr. Bart Barber, First Vice President, Southern Baptist Convention; Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Farmersville
· Bill Britt, President, Compel Outreach; President, Conference of Texas Baptist Evangelists, Wylie
· Matt Chandler, Senior Pastor, The Village Church; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network, Fort Worth
· Pastor Gilbert Chavez, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
· Gary B. Clements, Pastor, Retama Park Baptist Church, Kingsville
· Jerry M. Clements, Pastor, Lane Prairie Baptist Church, Joshua
· Leonardo M. Diaz, Pastor, Primera Iglesia Bautista de Hitchcock, Texas City
· Cesar Gabriel, Pastor, lglesia Bautista Trinidad, Laredo
· Jim Holcombe, Evangelist, Jim Holcombe Ministries, Killeen
· Dr. Bill Jones, Executive Director, Neches River Baptist Association, Crockett
· Wayne Livingston, Senior Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Kaufman
· Eddie Marsh, President, Texas Baptist Home for Children, Dallas/Fort Worth
· Al Manigsaca, Pastor, Filipino Christian Fellowship, Austin
· Charles Massegee, President, Charles Massegee Evangelistic Service, Inc.; Past President, The Conference of Texas Baptist Evangelists, Nevada, Texas
· Jeff Murriel, Pastor, Rockwall Friendship Baptist Church, Rockwall
· Dr. Steven W. Smith, Vice President, Student Services and Communications, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
· Robert Welch, Senior Pastor, Rock Hills Baptist Church, Brownsboro

They join a growing list of conservative religious leaders in Texas who support immigration reform, including:

· Mark Bailey, President, Dallas Theological Seminary
· Dr. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas
· Dr. David Fleming, Senior Pastor, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston
· Max Lucado, Teaching Pastor, Oak Hills Church, San Antonio
· Dr. Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
· Bob Roberts, Senior Pastor, NorthWood Church, Keller
· Berten Waggoner, Former National Director, Vineyard USA

The Table’s principles call for immigration reform that “respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects the unity of the immediate family, respects the rule of law, guarantees secure national borders, ensures fairness to taxpayers, and establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.” Last fall, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention adopted a resolution endorsing the principles.

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