|Faith leaders launch campaign for immigration reform|
Enrique Pais, born in Guatemala, attends a rally in support of immigration reform in 2006. A UMNS file photo by Rick Reinhard.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Nov. 18, 2009 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)
Parishioners of First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville, Md., join hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in a
national day of protest April 10, 2006.
A UMNS file photo by Jay Mallin.
Houses of worship in Arkansas, Iowa, Ohio and Texas are holding special prayer services in November and December to press Congress to pass immigration reform that keeps families together.
The personal effort is part of a larger campaign sponsored by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition that organizers hope will deliver 250,000 postcards to members of Congress by Jan. 4.
The Rev. Dean Reed, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Stephenville, Texas, and co-founder of the Welcoming Immigrants Network, and the Rev. Steven Copley, director of Justice for Our Neighbors, Little Rock, Ark., joined other faith leaders in a news conference to announce the “Home for the Holidays” postcard campaign.
Texas is a giant border area that has been welcoming migrants since Anglos came to the area in the late 1820s, said Reed. It’s the tone of the conversation that has changed dramatically in recent years.
“Everyone agrees that this (immigration reform) is a problem. I guess the disagreement is how to solve it," said Reed.
The cards feature a photo of a young boy and his father with the message: “Dear Member of Congress: As a person of faith, every day I see the unacceptable consequences of our broken immigration system through the separation of families and the escalation of fear in our congregations and communities. This holiday season, you can help keep families together by supporting comprehensive immigration reform.” There is room on the card for a personal message from the sender.
“Immigration reform is a major issue to the faith community, it is a biblical issue,” Copley said. The faith community has an impact on the political process in Arkansas, he said. United Methodist Women in the state passed out 500 of the Home for the Holidays postcards at an event recently, he added.
Some of the worship events planned include an "Evening of Compassion" at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 3. Bishop Mike Lowry, leader of the Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference of the United Methodist Church, will be the featured speaker. A Dec. 1 prayer service is scheduled for Pleasant Mound/Urban Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Reed said.
Other United Methodist events include:
- Monticello, Ark: Nov. 20 prayer service at First United Methodist Church, 6:30-8 p.m.
- Little Rock, Ark: Nov. 30 prayer service at First United Methodist Church from 6-7:30 p.m.
- Decorah, Iowa: Nov. 22 potluck and town hall meeting with senior staffers for U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, state and local officials, and faith and community leaders at Decorah High School.
- Columbus, Ohio: Nov. 22 event at Broad Street United Methodist Church at 4:30 p.m. with Bishop Bruce Ough. Members from the Ghanaian, Latino and the Somalian communities will talk about the impact U.S. immigration policies have had on them.
* Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
Immigration Raid Response
Immigration And Congregations
Faith groups lead call for immigration reform
Prayer vigils planned in support of immigration reform
Faith leaders call for humane immigration reform
Bishop thanks Obama for immigration reform focus
Holiday Postcard Campaign
Justice for Our Neighbors Immigration Ministry
Interfaith Immigration Coalition
Board of Church and Society
Immigrants in the United States: Ministries of Hospitality, Advocacy, and Justice
Immigration and Refugees—UMCOR
Comments will be moderated. Please see our Comment Policy
for more information.