Over the past year, we’ve been hosting clergy breakfast events on immigration across the state. We’ve met with more than 450 faith leaders to talk about how congregations and people of faith can get involved to make our state a better place for our immigrant brothers and sisters.
Our work has even drawn the attention of major media outlets. One breakfast was highlighted by a local TV station, and more recently we had not just one but two reporters from the Raleigh News & Observer sit in with us at the July 1 breakfast at Fairmont UMC in Raleigh. More than 45 faith leaders attended that morning.
Here’s part of the article that appeared the next day:
The meeting Thursday was the 16th on the issue that the N.C. Council of Churches has hosted across the state. The idea is to educate and embolden clergy to speak out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. The meeting drew pastors from Wilson, Henderson and Roxboro.
One, the Rev. David Haley of Winstead United Methodist Church in Wilson, suggested the populist revolt against immigration is not well-understood.
“The anger we’re speaking about is smokescreen for a larger issue, and that’s fear,” Haley said. “Those terrorists just walked across the borders and crashed those planes into buildings.”
He said one way to defuse that fear was for churches to invite illegal immigrants to worship and fellowship together. In his own congregation, Haley said he helped an illegal immigrant with some money and supplies. Later, she and her children started attending the church.
“The church has grown to love this family and have compassion for them,” he said. “It put a human face on it.”
The Rev. Ismael Ruiz Millan, a Methodist pastor serving in Roxboro, struck a similar theme.
“We immigrants are here, and we’re part of the body of Christ,” he said. “Please don’t amputate us.”
Thanks especially to Bishop Gwinn with the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church for his powerful comments on this important topic. When people of faith speak out in favor of welcoming immigrants, it adds to the public dialogue and makes a difference.