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Evangelical coalition seeks immigration overhaul

By RACHEL ZOLL Modified: January 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm •  Published: January 15, 2013
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— Prominent evangelical leaders announced a new effort Monday to persuade conservative Christians and lawmakers they should support overhauling U.S. immigration laws.

Called “I Was A Stranger,” the campaign asks churches to spend 40 days studying Scripture related to immigration, centered on the Matthew 25 exhortation to clothe and feed the stranger. Organizers hope to create a groundswell of support for changes that balance national security with keeping immigrant families together.

The coalition includes the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents about 40 denominations; the public policy arm of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention; Esperanza, the Latino evangelical economic development group; pastor Bill Hybels of the influential Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois and writer Max Lucado. Sojourners, the liberal-leaning evangelical advocacy group, is also participating.

“In the Anglo churches, there are so many more Hispanic people that we know and love,” said the Rev. Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland church, which serves about 15,000 congregants in the Orlando, Fla., area. “There's a readiness, even in the Anglo churches, to address this.”

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