Standing Up for Immigrants

Northaven Friends, and Friends Beyond,

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Picture by Erica Coppage

Those of you at worship today were a part of the beautiful “sending prayer” that the congregation gave me at the end of the service. I was deeply honored to received it.

For those who were not there, or missed the news, on Wednesday I will be traveling to Washington DC with a group of around 150 clergy from across the country. My friend and colleague Rev. Owen Ross, of Christ’s Foundry UMC, is also a United Methodist going from North Texas.

On Thursday, we’ll participate in a non-violent action which involve a march from Capitol Hill to the White House, and likely arrest there.

Owen and I will release a joint faith statement about this “action” in a day or two, just before we leave. But I know we are both eager to stand up for our immigrant brothers and sisters, and to call our national leaders –the President and the Congress– to do more than just “talk.”

Whether it’s the border “crisis” here in Texas, or the lack of comprehensive immigration reform (despite promises that it would happen this session) immigrants are in the news. But they are being talked about as a political issue, not as real human beings. We look forward to standing up for them, even if it means going to jail for our convictions.

Jesus called us to “welcome the little children.” The Prophets call us to “treat the alien as if they are a citizen.” The Bible is replete with passages about how we are called to welcome and love the foreigner, without respect to modern constructions like “legal” and “illegal.” (of which the Bible knows nothing)

This morning, I was deeply gratified by the number of folks who said, “I wish I could go with you!” Or, “You’ll be there on my behalf too.” And, as I noted, the “sending prayer” today, led by Bill McElvaney, was very special.

I will carry all of you in my heart, and carry my Guatemalan stole around my neck.

Stay tuned here, and on Facebook and Twitter, for more as the week progresses. We hope to meet with representatives of Pete Sessions on Wednesday. The “action” march will be on Thursday.

We covet your prayers.

But more than this, we call for your action on welcoming our immigrant brothers and sisters to our immigrant nation.

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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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