For Christ's sake: Local Evangelicals plan Civic Center Park rally for immigration reform
Jeff Johnsen, the executive director of Mile High Ministries, a collaboration of urban churches in Denver, thinks its time that Evangelical Christians spoke up about immigration.
"The way we've worked out our social concern is caring for the poor: helping the homeless, feeding those who are hungry," Johnsen says. "But our tradition in the last century hasn't done a lot of speaking up about the systemic and institutional issues behind poverty. It's new territory for us."
Mile High Ministries is one of several organizations hosting a prayer-focused rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform at Civic Center Park at 4:30 p.m. next Tuesday, January 26. The group will "pray for illumination in the path toward justice and that the nation's leaders might demonstrate the moral leadership to reform our nation's unworkable immigration policies," according to a news release.
Johnsen says the idea for the rally surfaced about two months ago during a conversation with friends from other churches. "A lot of us have relationships with immigrants but were lamenting the fact that we were not participating in the public debate around immigration reform.
"We said, 'It's time to do something, but we're latecomers.' One of things we thought we would be able to do was... gather somewhere for some prayer and make a statement that we care deeply about immigrants in our country and it's time for Congress to make changes in the laws."
Johnsen says the group isn't advocating for a specific law; rather, their focus is on joining the chorus of voices calling for reform. Thus far, he says, Evangelicals have been "silent at best" on the issue -- a stance he thinks is contrary to the Bible's teachings.
"Even Jesus was a refugee in Egypt," he says. "The Bible has a lot of ethical teaching in how to treat immigrants, and that's all part of the subset of how to treat your neighbors."
He says he doesn't know how many people to expect -- though he's estimating it will be more than fifty -- and he doesn't know what his group of Evangelicals will do next. But he does know this: Come Tuesday evening, "we're going to sing and we're going to pray."
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