Immigrant workers toil in a strawberry field. (Photo: Kelley Summerville)
Has immigration reform gotten lost in the crush of other pressing issues and cultural happenings?
In recent weeks, cable TV had an obsessive focus on Michael Jackson's death and funeral. Other headlines and programs focused public attention on health care reform, climate change, the national economy, a Supreme Court nominee and the endless war in Afghanistan – all important issues. However, largely missing from the national spotlight has been immigration.
While immigration may not be in the headlines, it is at the doorstep of the local church. That makes the issue an inescapable reality for Baptists. The biblical witness' unavoidable imperative to care for the stranger makes the issue a top-tier priority for congregations.
Recognizing the urgency of the issue and the Bible's moral imperative, the Midwest Regional Meeting of the New Baptist Covenant in Norman, Okla., has scheduled a luncheon titled "Facts, Action and Faith: Responding to Immigration" for Friday, Aug. 7.
The luncheon's goal is to inform and equip congregational leaders for constructive engagement of immigration as a public policy issue and a local church ministry. The luncheon program takes a holistic approach — hard analysis, practical tools and moral reflection.
Program leaders include:
- Suzii Paynter, director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), who will provide an objective review of the different federal legislative proposals to address immigration;
- Richard Muñoz, director of the ISAAC project, a joint venture of BGCT and Buckner Children and Family Services, who will identify immigration-related resources for use in the local churches;
- Javier Elizondo, executive vice president and provost for the Baptist University of the Americas, and Tom Ogburn, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, who will reflect biblically on immigration and the church's moral obligation.
Each will serve on the luncheon panel. After opening remarks, they will interface with participants, addressing their concerns about immigration. If you want a first-rate briefing on immigration, attend this luncheon.
But don't attend it alone. Invite fellow church members to attend with you. Make sure a representative of your church staff is there.
To reserve a luncheon ticket, click here.
Following the luncheon, former president Jimmy Carter will speak in a plenary session.
Other New Baptist Covenant program leaders include Democratic Gov. Brad Henry of Oklahoma and his wife, Kim Henry, and former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts.
For more details about the opening session on Thursday, Aug. 6, which includes a screening of "Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism," click here.
For more conference details, click here.
The Norman gathering is a top-notch meeting that brings together goodwill Baptists. Make it a priority.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.