My Remarks at the MegaMarch Press Conference

Friday, I took part in a press conference of religious leaders, gathered to show their support for the MegaMarch. I’ve already posted the comments at Northaven’s blog. But I thought I’d post it here too. The press conference was covered in the DMN here, and here’s a pretty decent news story from Channel 11.


The DMN story has generated quite a few comments. A few of them were thoughtful; many were really quite angry and bitter. There are obviously a lot of feelings on all sides of these issues.

Prepared remarks for a press conference in support of comprehensive immigration reform, the Dream Act, and the MegaMarch.
Dallas City Hall
April 29, 2010

My name is Rev. Eric Folkerth and I am the senior pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas.

I am pleased to be standing before you this afternoon in support of comprehensive immigration reform, the Dream Act, and the MegaMarch.

I am pleased to tell you that members of Northaven United Methodist Church –myself included– took part in the original MegaMarch of 2006. We were honored and humbled then to march alongside of 500,000 of our Latino/Latina brothers and sisters. And we look forward to being a part of the march on this coming Saturday.

All of us here today stand before you as leaders of our churches and synagogues. I stand before you because I believe Jesus commands those of us who follow him as Lord and Savior to “Love our neighbor as ourselves.”

And in the Gospels of Jesus, Jesus is very clear that our “neighbor” is often a person of another race…an outsider…a foreigner…those who are considered “different.”

I stand before you, because I believe standing for the rights of immigrants is part of following the commandments of Jesus.

Old Testament law (the Hebrew scriptures )also reminds us that God’s holy people were once foreigners in a strange land. And, therefore, God commands faithful people, then and now, to treat the foreigner, the “alien,” the outsider as if they were one of your own. That’s in the Bible!

So, we are not as here as politicians. We are here to speak to what we believe to be God’s commandments.

A moment ago, I mentioned the original MegaMarch of 2006. To those of you in the media, to those of you who are our elected leaders, I implore you to refer back to that march as you also look forward to Saturday’s march.

Please hear this next sentence: The MegaMarch of 2006 was the largest single peaceful demonstration in the history of Dallas, Texas by a factor of ten. Think about that. It was the largest peaceful demonstration on ANY social issue in ANY historical time, in Dallas’ history.

Saturday’s march will likely take its place as no less than the second largest march in our city’s history (although we of course won’t know until it gets here…)

So, I implore our citizens, the media and politicians….as you evaluate angry voices on talk radio, as you hear angry calls on elected officials voicemails, please also listen to and remember the peaceful witness of the hundreds of thousands who marched in 2006, and all who will march Saturday.

We must listen to their voices too.

Saturday’s march is not a response to the new Arizona law (it was planned before that news broke) but a continuation of a witness and dream –a reminder of the unfinished business of immigration reform– that languished for years.

Concerning Arizona’s new law however, those of us here today are not scholars of constitutional law, but we are scholars of God’s law. And we respectfully suggest that this new law violates God’s specific commandment to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” and God’s commandment to “treat the foreigner as if they were one of your own.”

Jesus’ call to love our neighbor, the desire to support immigrants and our Latino/Latina brothers and sisters everywhere, is why I will march on Saturday.

And I thank you for your time and attention today.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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