By José Cusicanqui – Qué Pasa Media Network
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Methodist Churches Join Pro-Immigrant Campaign
Raleigh – The Methodists appear to be one step ahead of other religious congregations in North Carolina when it comes to the work of promoting immigration reform.
One of the denomination’s main statewide leaders, Bishop Al Gwinn, was one of the keynote speakers at a breakfast this past Thursday organized by the North Carolina Council of Churches in Raleigh.
The bishop highlighted the initiatives and efforts of various religious denominations, but at the same time he believes that the Methodist church needs to continue educating many American Methodists about this controversial theme.
“If we look at the political side it is going to be difficult to achieve understanding of the issue,” said Gwinn, leader of the Methodist conference in the state. “Many of our churches are still confused or silent, but we are working to spread the will of God.”
The bishop explained that at the same time, representatives of other churches or denominations have moved away from the Christian model or simply have not taken scripture into full account.
“Our tradition is to welcome the stranger, performing the will of God,” said Gwinn.
“Other denominations have been distracted from that purpose or tend to forget how faith works. I would not tell others that they have to be Methodist, but simply be Christian,” he explained.
For a period of eight weeks starting on June 6, Bishop Gwinn and his colleague in the Desert Southwest Conference, Minerva Carcaño, have launched a national Methodist campaign to promote immigration reform and lead prayer vigils against Arizona law SB 1070.
“Not all churches participate, but many are serving,” said pastor Edith Salazar, with Luz Hispanic Ministry of the People in Cary. She is preparing a conference with Anglo members of her congregation for August 8. “We must help change their thinking,” said Salazar. “They are the ones who have power, who decide the laws.”
Leaders of other denominations also attended the breakfast, although a majority of the crowd of over 40 people at Fairmont Church was Methodist.
“All churches, without exception, must focus on immigration reform,” said Kris Ramsundar, a member of the Church of God in Raleigh. “This is something we need to face because we have many people experiencing difficulties. Sometimes the same people who criticize the problem from the outside are going to church. You have to work with them, and pastors must address the issue from the pulpit.”
During the meeting the N.C. Council of Churches also announced that it is distributing materials in Spanish and English, including the study guide “For You Were Once a Stranger: Immigration in the U.S. through the Lens of Faith.”