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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 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

Orlando Screening:
                          Iglesia El Calvario
2500 West Oak Ridge Road

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


World Premiere Film Event Explores Biblical Response to Immigration

‘The Stranger’ Premieres in Chicago Ahead of Nationwide Screenings

CHICAGOThe Stranger, a documentary film that looks at immigration from a biblical perspective, premiered Wednesday before more than 200 people at Park Community Church in Chicago.

The film highlights the stories of three families who are caught in our broken immigration system. It is available for download via Already, more than 500 screenings are scheduled in more than 30 states.

During a call Tuesday and at a panel discussion following the screening, national and local evangelical leaders spoke about the immense human costs our immigration system exacts on churches, families and communities:

Paco Amador, Pastor, New Life Community Church, Little Village, Chicago:
“The Stranger describes the kind of immigration reform that we as evangelicals believe our nation needs. This is not an obscure issue being talked about in semi-empty halls of government buildings. It is a daily conversation at kitchen tables, classrooms, boardrooms, factories, parks and social venues throughout the land, with direct impact for countless individuals, families and entire communities.

“The kind of immigration reform we are seeking has the power to influence the destiny of our country for generations to come by providing real hope and opportunities for every hardworking and responsible person within our borders. This film paints our message in human strokes.”

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Some people think immigration reform is most about politics but it’s really about people. The Stranger is the stories of real people.”

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago:
“The new documentary The Stranger is another important effort to educate and mobilize a growing movement of evangelicals across a wide spectrum that have joined our effort to reform our broken immigration system.”

Peter Hong, Lead Pastor, New Community Covenant Church, Chicago:
“We as evangelicals are a people of the Word. God’s call for us to ‘welcome the stranger among you’ (Matthew 25) is a clear mandate to follow in the steps of our Master. This film should motivate and encourage churches across this country to act as agents of grace and justice in their communities and cities. The time to act is now!”

Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners:
“This film powerfully demonstrates the substantial costs our broken immigration system imposes on families. It also shows why addressing this moral crisis is a major test for our nation’s politics. We must live into the hope of a better future and stronger country inspired by the common good. This film reveals the opportunity available to our leaders and the suffering that will continue if action isn’t taken.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“An inspiring film that highlights the human side of immigration beyond the politics, The Stranger presents the stories of real people from our own evangelical community who are impacted by our broken laws. This film will be a critical tool that the church can use to elevate the conversation of what it means to carry out a biblical call to welcome the stranger among us.”

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

More than 200 Evangelical Pastors to Meet with Congress, Urge Vote on Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 200 local evangelical pastors from 25 states are coming to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to meet with their members of Congress and urge a vote this year on immigration reform.
The day will include a morning press conference, worship service and congressional meetings. Leading up to it, pastors across the country are stressing the urgency for reform to members of Congress and highlighting their upcoming trip via more than 15 local press events in 13 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina and two in Texas.

WHAT: More than 200 local evangelical pastors from 25 states participate in a press conference, worship service and meetings with congressional offices
WHEN: Tuesday, April 29
9:30 a.m. Press conference
10:30 a.m. Worship Service
WHERE:  400 D St., SE
WHO: Press Conference:
Eugene Cho, Pastor, Quest Church, Seattle
Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor, Vineyard Columbus, Columbus, Ohio
Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth
John Perkins, Chairman Emeritus/Co-Founder, Christian Community Development Association, Jackson, Miss.
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition  
Althea Taylor, Executive Pastor, Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene, New York
Bryant Wright, Senior Pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga.
Worship Service:
Palmer Chinchen, Lead Pastor, The Grove Bible Church, Chandler, Ariz.
Eugene Cho, Pastor, Quest Church, Seattle
Biff Gore, Worship and Congregational Care Pastor, Highline Community Church, Centennial, Colo.
Brenda Kirk, Texas Church Mobilizer Evangelical Immigration Table, Houston
Michael Langer, Pastor, Glen Ellyn Evangelical Covenant Church, Glen Ellyn, Ill.
Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth
John Perkins, Chairman Emeritus/Co-Founder, Christian Community Development Association, Jackson, Miss.
Bill Riedel, Senior Pastor, Redemption Hill Church, Washington, D.C.
Bryant Wright, Senior Pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga.
Mark Vega, Senior Pastor, Ignite Life Center, Gainesville, Fla.
Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Jacksonville Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

Local Pastors to Fly to D.C., Meet with Members of Congress Next Week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., APRIL 24, 2014 — Top Jacksonville evangelical leaders held a press conference Tuesday 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 April 29 #Pray4Reform trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress. Hosts included the Evangelical Immigration Table, World Relief Jacksonville, First Baptist Church of Orange Park and Iglesia Ciudad.

The following quotes are from pastors at Tuesday’s press conference:

Garry Swearingen, Associate Pastor, San Jose Church of Christ:
“It’s obvious to me that our political leaders would act in a responsible way if they could only hear the combined voices of all concerned Christians who are interested in bringing this long talked about and important topic to a meaningful resolution. Let us all fervently pray that God will use our trip to D.C. to bring these representatives to the boldness needed to step up and use the biblical principles set forth by the Evangelical Immigration Table in solving this regional and national issue.”

David Tarkington, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Orange Park:
“As followers of Jesus Christ, we understand that reform is needed regarding the United States’ immigration practices. While immigration is a political, economic and legal issue, it is ultimately a moral issue. Immigration reform is not about amnesty, but accountability. Proper reform must respect those who abide by our laws and value the individual. Our support for immigration reform calls for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus while pursuing justice and compassion. Our intention in Washington, D.C., next week is to help our Congress move forward with immigration reform with our support.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #VoteOnReform.

Missouri Evangelical Leaders Discuss Biblical Response to Immigration

CLAYTON, Mo. MARCH 25, 2014 — Top Missouri faith leaders met today to discuss the moral imperatives for immigration reform as well as the biblical call to welcome the stranger among us and how our current immigration system affects the church.

At the event, local evangelical leaders considered this national and pastoral issue, as well as the Bible’s teachings regarding welcoming the stranger in our midst. They also shared how churches in St. Louis and across the country have been engaging with the immigrant community.

The following are quotes from speakers at today’s event:

Leopoldo A. Sánchez M., M.Div., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Hispanic Studies and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Concordia Seminary:

“Concordia Seminary was founded by German immigrants who fled their country to practice their faith without fear of persecution. Proud of its immigrant roots, Concordia Seminary serves immigrants today. As part of its educational mission, the Center for Hispanic Studies at Concordia is committed to be a forum for the exchange of ideas on immigration reform that will take into account factors such as the humane enforcement of immigration laws, the unification of families torn apart by deportation, the contributions of Latinos and other immigrants to our churches and communities, and the church’s free exercise to do its religious work of Gospel proclamation and mercy among immigrants.”

Matthew Soerens, Field Director, Evangelical Immigration Table; U.S. Church Training Specialist, World Relief:   

“Immigration is an urgent issue that impacts churches here in Missouri and across the nation. As more evangelical Christians look to the Bible to see what God says about welcoming the strangers among us, more are speaking out. We need our legislators to act now on immigration reforms that are compassionate, sensible and respectful of the rule of law. As a nation we need commonsense reform that respects the God-given dignity of every person and benefits our country’s congregations and communities.”

Gregory R. Perry, Ph. D., Associate Professor of New Testament and Director of the City Ministry Initiative, Covenant Seminary:

“From its earliest pages, which originally addressed the refugees of the Exodus, to its final vision of intercultural worship before God’s throne, the Bible describes the experiences of immigrants and their families as formative for the identity of God’s people and their mission to all the families of the earth. When evangelical churches speak up for immigrant families and speak out for reforms in our immigration laws which will support the integrity of those families, we speak in concert with Scripture and our own history.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform.

South Carolina Congressman Mulvaney Attends Latino Town Hall

Congressman Gathers for His First Town Hall Conducted Solely in Spanish

GAFFNEY, S.C., FEBRUARY 18, 2014 — During a Latino Town Hall Monday evening, Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney (SC-05) heard from his constituents that immigration reform is urgent this year.

At the event, believed to be the first town hall conducted in Spanish by a South Carolina member of Congress, Mulvaney answered questions and spoke to our current immigration system and the prospects for reform in 2014.

The town hall was co-sponsored by Periódico Latino, the Greenville Hispanic Alliance, the Fellowship of Upstate Baptist Latino Pastors and the Evangelical Immigration Table.

The following are quotes from local South Carolina faith leaders at Monday’s event:

Pastor Gregorio Castillo, Hispanic Minister, United Baptist Church, Spartanburg:
“The most important thing for me is to see that there is a group of people in Washington willing to move forward on immigration reform. Maybe it’s not always what we want to see, but we are moving in the right direction. Thanks to Congressman Mulvaney for interacting with us in Spanish — it means so much to our community.”

Dr. Victor Prieto, Hispanic Ministries Consultant, Spartanburg County Baptist Network; Professor of Linguistics and Spanish, North Greenville University:
“The first town hall meeting ever with Hispanics in the Upstate of South Carolina was a success regarding the discussion on immigration. Congressman Mulvaney met with close to 150 Hispanics, which shows two important things: the decision of Hispanics to make their presence felt and their voice heard on issues like immigration reform, and the willingness of Republic leaders to talk about such issues. These two facts give us hope of a sound immigration reform sooner than later. This is not the time to get discouraged or rest!”

Rev. Derrick Smith, Senior Pastor, Kaleidoscope Multi-Ethnic Fellowship, Spartanburg:
“This was the first event I have ever seen where Hispanics in the South finally feel represented by their legislators. Beginning tonight and moving forward, I’m optimistic that the urgent need for immigration reform will get through to our representatives and that it will pass this year.”

Prominent Southern Baptist Faith Leader Embraces Immigration Reform

More Than 200 Evangelical Leaders Have Signed Principles for Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 18, 2014 — Support for immigration reform continues to grow within the evangelical community. Most recently, Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a prominent Southern Baptist leader, signed on to the Evangelical Immigration Table’s Statement of Principles on immigration reform.

“We do not need Congress to act in order to support any party, but in order to take care of those whom God has put in our care,” Dr. Patterson said in a sermon last week at Nueva Vida Baptist Church in Dallas. “God is going to have to change some hearts … A great movement of God is needed and He could do it now.”

Patterson joins more than 200 prominent evangelical leaders who have endorsed the principles. Prominent signatories in the past year include:
•    Jason Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
•    Tony Evans, Senior Pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas
•    Luis Palau, Founder and CEO, Luis Palau Association
•    William Robinson, Interim President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

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.”

In addition to the influential leaders who have signed on to the Table’s principles, the Evangelical Immigration Table has launched a successful #Pray4Reform campaign, mobilizing thousands of prayer partners across the nation. Op-eds from Table signatories have appeared in newspapers in 16 states and national outlets including, Politico and the Christian Post.

The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.


ICYMI: National and Local Evangelical Leaders Applaud Republican Action on Immigration Standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following Thursday’s release of House Republican standards for immigration reform, evangelical leaders from across the country have offered support for this step forward.

National Evangelical Immigration Table leaders praised the movement on immigration, while local leaders in states such as Texas, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, California and Michigan offered local perspectives on why immigration reform must move ahead.

In addition, evangelical pastors from Florida, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina joined national evangelical voices Monday on a press call applauding House Republicans’ efforts and highlighting the urgency for legislation this Congress.

Citing the moral imperatives for immigration reform, national and local evangelical leaders across the country are bolstering broad, bipartisan immigration reform rooted in the biblical values of welcoming the stranger and upholding the rule of law.

The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

Texas Faith Leaders Applaud Republican Standards on Immigration Reform

Major Commitment from House Leadership Propels Reform Forward

AUSTIN — Last week, House Republicans released standards for immigration reform. The standards were met with broad support among top Texas faith leaders, who lauded the movement toward much-needed reform and called on Congress to pass reform this year.

In addition, on a press call today, Pastor David Galvan, Lead Pastor at New Life Baptist Church in Dallas joined local pastors from Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as national evangelical leaders, to speak about the standards and the momentum they create for immigration reform to pass in 2014. A recording of the call is available here.

The following are quotes from Texas faith leaders:

Pastor David Galvan, Lead Pastor, New Life Baptist Church, Dallas:
“Immigration Reform is overdue. I applaud the House GOP conference for opening the door to a hurting people and for laying out a framework for reform. Many people have been torn apart by a system in great need of repair and these principles are a positive move forward. I have great admiration for the tough choices that have been made by our leaders and know that this represents a bright future for many.”

Dr. Rick Hertless, Evangelist, Singer, Author, Radio Talk Host of “His Gospel Power”:
“I’m very supportive of the GOP Standards for Immigration Reform. And I think highlighting tighter border security and a functioning visa system are at the heart of most American’s concerns. If these can be addressed in a bi-partisan fashion, then true reform is likely. But it would be un-American if reform led the government to institute two classes of people in the US, a class with full rights and a lesser class without full rights.”

Pastor Marivel Reyes, Lead Pastor, El Shaddai Pentacostal Church, Austin:
“Everyone knows the administration has untapped authority to help undocumented immigrants. The release of the GOP Standards for Immigration Reform, I pray, indicates Speaker Boehner may have some untapped ability to build bipartisan support for reform in 2014. That would give real hope to millions who are caught in a system that is in great need of repair.”

Pastor Ademir Simões Ferreira, Music, Worship and Creative Arts Pastor, Bible Baptist Church, Pflugerville:
“The GOP Standards for Immigration Reform are a major step forward and I applaud their courage. They are major because if enacted into law they would likely take away the daily threat of deportation of the undocumented as long as they are law abiding in other ways; they would be authorized to work and they would have the ability to travel in and out of the United States. Those are critical first steps to a major overhaul of a very archaic, randomly enforced, outdated and broken immigration system. I pray Speaker Boehner continues to lead on this critical issue.”


The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

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.”


The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

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