Top Indiana evangelical leaders met today at the Wesleyan Church Headquarters, 13300 Olio Road, Fishers, Ind., for a press conference to highlight the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote on immigration reform.
I was privileged to be among local pastors including Darryn Scheske of Heartland Church in Fishers, Mike Colaw of Trinity Church in Fishers, Steve DeNeff of College Wesleyan Church, Marion, Ind., and other pastors and church officials from Indiana.
We discussed the moral imperatives for immigration reform and the April 29 #Pray4Reform event in Washington, D.C., when more than 200 evangelical pastors, including a dozen from Indiana, will meet with their members of Congress.
Here is the statement I delivered.
April 25, 2014
My name is Lawrence Wilson, and I am pastor at Fall Creek Wesleyan Church in Fishers, Ind. Our congregation is home to immigrants from 10 countries of origin outside the 50 United States, and my own wife is a naturalized citizen. We are a nation of immigrants, and our congregation reflects that reality.
I was privileged to attend the citizenship ceremony for one of my parishioners this year, an engineer from Germany. It was thrilling to see him and 71 other new Americans pledge their loyalty to our country.
Yet the experience of immigration is much different for many others, who come here to work at more menial tasks. Many of these workers are undocumented and receive much different treatment. Lengthy detention and separation of families is commonplace. Many live in fear of being deported, making them easy targets for unscrupulous operators.
We have two systems for immigration. Those who come to captain our industries or teach in our universities are welcome. Those who come to do the equally needed and desired work of serving at our tables and tending our properties are treated as outsiders.
This is unjust, and it harms people. For me, immigration reform is not a policy issue; it is a people issue. It is not about politics; it’s about holiness.
The question our society faces is this: Will we treat one another with dignity as persons created in the image of God? Or will we create a permanent class of underlings who are welcome to mow our lawns and serve our food but will never be recognized as equals in our society?
We must do the former, and I am going to Washington to urge congress to reform our laws in a way that ensures accountability, a more secure border, a stronger economy, and the opportunity for aspiring Americans to earn legal status with eventual citizenship.