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CBF ministers call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform

Ministers rally at First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. Photo by CBFNC.

Ministers rally at First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. Photo by CBFNC.

By Aaron Weaver

ATLANTA – A coalition of ministers affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC) gathered at First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. Tuesday, April 2, to urge the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

At the news conference, Ka’thy Gore Chappell, leadership development coordinator for CBFNC, explained the ministers’ motivation for speaking out.

“Our scripture repeatedly calls us to care for the immigrants and strangers among us. As Christians, we know that Jesus taught us in Mark 12 and Matthew 22 that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves,” said Chappell.

“We stand ready to support legislation that reflects our Christian values and builds the common good. We are driven by a moral obligation rooted deeply in our faith to address the needs of immigrants in our country,” added Scott Orr, pastor of Lindley Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C.

Fortino Ocampo, pastor of Centro Familiar Cristiano in Siler City, N.C., emphasized the personal nature of the immigration reform debate.

“Daily, ministers in our CBFNC Hispanic Network face checkpoints and racial profiling. Police officers, who act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, camp outside our churches on Sunday mornings to check IDs,” said Ocampo.

Other speakers included Glenn Pettiford, associate pastor of First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem; Brandon Hudson, pastor of Northwest Baptist Church, Winston-Salem; Hector Rengiso, pastor of Iglesia Bautista, Goldsboro; Linda Jones, co-pastor of Via Faith Community and missions coordinator, CBFNC; and Javier Benitez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Roca Forte, Pittsboro and Hispanic leader-coach for CBFNC.

The coalition also encouraged other ministers and leaders to take the “I Was a Stranger Challenge,” a prayer challenge to read and reflect on a Bible verse or passage relating to how immigrants are to be treated.

The coalition called specifically on North Carolina’s Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr as well as on Reps. Virginia Fox and Mel Watt to support 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.

These guidelines are derived from a statement of immigration reform principles released last year by the Evangelical Immigration Table, a diverse coalition comprised of the nation’s largest evangelical organizations.

The “Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform” has been endorsed by hundreds of prominent leaders including Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) executive coordinator Suzii Paynter, who has been active in comprehensive immigration reform efforts.

“Comprehensive immigration reform is justice for all, returning us to the rule of law and reordering justice for more than 20 million people in our country,” Paynter said.

The Evangelical Immigration Table is spearheading an initiative April 17 in Washington D.C. called the Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action for Immigration Reform. This daylong event will include a news conference, meetings with members of Congress and their staffs and also worship services.

David Beckman, president of Bread for the World, a CBF partner, is among the featured speakers. Fellowship Baptists will be among the thousands of participants as CBFNC is planning to transport a group of ministers to Washington D.C. for the Day of Prayer and Action.

“I encourage people of faith to contact elected officials of both parties and ask them to fix our broken immigration system. Support solutions with our voices April 17,” said Paynter.

CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

28 thoughts on “CBF ministers call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform

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