Living out God’s call to welcome the stranger, Bishop Michael Rinehart of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) visited lawmakers on Capitol Hill with the message that economic security and personal responsibility start with strong families and citizenship, and that America would be foolish to rebuild its immigration system on any other bedrock..
“Coming to Capitol Hill with other faith leaders today is my way of giving back to the refugees who have enriched my life and the life of my church and community,” said Rinehart, who made the Hill visits as part of a national leadership team organized by the 2013 Lutheran Immigration Leadership Summit. “As bishop of the Lutheran Church in Houston, I’ve seen refugees from many countries pass through this city. They have been a key to our thriving economy. We’ve learned that America’s leadership on refugee protection not only saves lives, but adds meaning to the worship and community life of this great city.”
“Compassionate immigration reform centered on family unity and a path to citizenship is crucial to the economic success and social cohesion of Houston,” said Rinehart, Bishop of the Gulf Coast Synod, ELCA, who personally visited the offices of members of the Texas and Louisiana delegations as part of the summit organized by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS).
“We’re meeting with a wide variety of congressional offices today, and we’re grateful to the Lutheran leaders who are the heart of this effort,” said Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to deliver this powerful message.”
40 Lutheran leaders are taking part in LILS, which provides an opportunity for Lutheran leaders to engage in direct conversations with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for the reform of our broken immigration system.
LIRS’s CIR advocacy goals include providing a roadmap to citizenship, ensuring enforcement measures are humane and just, protecting families from separation, promoting integration of vulnerable migrants, and protecting U.S. and migrant workers.
“There has never been a more critical time for these Lutheran leaders to engage with their elected officials in Washington,” said LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke, “We count on their faith perspective, leadership and the lived experience of the Lutherans they serve to help guide the immigration reform debate towards a humane and welcoming conclusion.”
The TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod, ELCA, is a network of 119 churches in SE Texas and Southern Louisiana.
LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States.