Local pastors to host immigration reform service

A group of local pastors is planning a service to discuss immigration reform.

Posted on July 10, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 10, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.

Nelson Kraybill believes that when people talk about immigration, “we’re talking about us.”

Kraybill, a pastor at Prairie Street Mennonite Church, says that immigration is an issue “close to the heart.” Several members in his congregation are dealing with immigration issues. In the wider community, many are expressing positive or negative opinions about immigrants, he says.

Kraybill, in addition to four local pastors, believes that churches should be “learning, thinking and praying about” immigration. To stimulate discussion on the topic, the pastors are hosting an immigration reform service at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at Prairie Street Mennonite Church.

The hour-long event will include a time of worship and music. Three or four immigrants will share their stories of immigration in a panel-format. Kraybill said the immigrants have struggled with issues of legality and papers.

Following the panel, an immigration attorney will explain the immigration reform bill that the Senate passed in June. The bill would give a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

A prayer will end the service that “asks for a just outcome,” Kraybill said.

Kraybill is joined by Rob Van Ess, pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ, Elkhart; David Arujo, pastor at Iglesia Menonita del Buen Pastor, Goshen; and David Lawrence and Rudy Gourdine, pastor and member of First Presbyterian Church, Elkhart.

The men have met casually for several months to discuss their concern for justice on the immigration issue, Kraybill said.

Kraybill said his role as a Christian pastor is one that stands in the “long tradition of receiving and welcoming and caring for the sojourner and the newcomer in our midst.”

He stressed that anyone is welcome to attend the service regardless of their viewpoint or religious background.

The service will be offered in English and Spanish. Prairie Street Mennonite Church is at 1316 Prairie St, Elkhart.

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