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Immigration Issues



We are a people who believe that God migrated to the person Jesus, who then became a refugee in Egypt.  Beginning with Adam and Eve, the world’s first immigrants, the Bible is replete with stories of our faith ancestors being called and sent to lands unknown.  The story of our faith is told through the lens of immigration and immigrants but we often miss the implication this has on our spiritual practices and faith tradition. 

The information provided below will help worship planners and individuals incorporate these stories as well as the biblical mandates to love the stranger and work for justice for the oppressed into everyday worship and prayer. 

The Office of Immigration Issues welcomes your contribution to our effort to gather worship materials that lift up the immigrant experience.  If you have materials to offer, please contact Teresa Waggener at or 502-569-5007.

Worship Planning
Trinity Presbyterian Church hosted a service of worship and celebration of the Lord’s Supper at a meeting for the Tres Rios Presbytery.  The worship service lifted up immigration as a concern of the people of God.  Access the bulletin here (PDF), which contains a call to worship and prayer of confession.

Presbyterian minister and seminary professor Rev. Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes created a worship service that can adapted for your local context.  He did this is response to reading an article in the NY Times in 2012 about unaccompanied minors crossing the Mexico/U.S. border.  Explore these resources on his website

This booklet (PDF) was used for a special worship service, El Via Crucis The Way of the Cross, in El Paso, Texas.  It includes Scripture and reflections, as well as responses that could be adapted to fit your local community. 

The hymn Abraham Journeyed to a New Country was written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, the author of Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor (Discipleship Resources/UpperRoom Books, 2009) and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship (Geneva Press, 2000).  She is the co-pastor of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware. This congregation includes first generation immigrants from Brazil, England, Ghana, India, Scotland and South Africa, and provides space for a Ghanaian Presbyterian Fellowship.

University Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas celebrated Immigration Sunday on June 2, 2013 with liturgy and sermon that lifted up our immigration story as people of faith, particularly the immigration story of new comers to the U.S. The bulletin (PDF) is provided to assist in planning for future events. 

Rev. Kelly Allen at University Presbyterian Church in San Antonio prepared this bulletin for immigration Sunday. 

The North Carolina Council of Churches has published a brand new church bulletin insert on comprehensive immigration reform. With large color pictures and up-to-date facts and figures, this 5.5x8.5 insert offers quick facts about immigrants in NC, explains where things stand with federal legislation, and suggests many different ways for congregants to get involved. It's time-sensitive and copies are going fast. You can order free color copies or download the PDF here.

Creed for Immigrants by Jose Luis Casal, General Missioner of Tres Rios Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Scripture for reflection
The DREAM Sabbath 2011 Toolkit was created by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a partnership of faith-based organizations committed to just immigration reform.  While the Toolkit was created to assist with lifting up the DREAM Act and urging its passage so that undocumented young people brought to the U.S. without documentation by their parents would have a pathway to citizenship, it contains theological reflections, links to online videos from faith leaders, and sermon starters that will assist you preparing a meaningful reflection for worship or other gathering.

Sermon helps
I was a Stranger and you Welcomed Me by Sojourners.

Bible Studies
Becoming the Church Together by the North Carolina Council of Churches.
The Immigration Debate: What’s a Christian to Think by the Thoughtful Christian.

Migration is not new to the story of humankind. In fact, the Bible brims with stories of people on the move. In the nine lessons of the 2013—2014 Horizons Bible study, An Abiding Hope, Janice Catron explores the migration story of the Hebrew people as told in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. This ancient story of an oppressed people putting their full trust in an unseen God to secure their freedom even against a very determined oppressor continues to speak to us today as we continue to grapple with the complexities of both migration and “otherness” and the complexities of faith. The January/February 2013 issue of Horizons magazine further explores the topic of immigration through a faith perspective. Please order your Horizons Bible study (item #HZN13100, $8.00; also available in large print, audio, and in Spanish editions; and a companion DVD) and magazine (HZN13200, $4.00) through Presbyterian Distribution Service. , (800) 524-2612.

Presbyterians tell their immigration stories
Read the story (PDF) of a mother in Texas who was detained by law enforcement when she was stopped for a minor traffic violation.

Youth participating in Urban Life Ministries

Youth participating in Urban Life Ministries shared their immigration stories (PDF) for a recent edition of Horizon's magazine. UrbanLife is a faith-based non-profit Christian Community Development organization in the neighborhood of City Heights, San Diego. It is dedicated to loving and serving elementary, middle school, high school, and college students and their families in this neighborhood. One of the core values of UrbanLife is that of loving our neighbor, which takes many forms. Through weekly programs, trips, special events, and mentoring relationships, we accomplish this goal. But there is also another side to loving our neighbor. This comes in the form of entering the public arena and standing alongside our students and their families who are facing the challenges of unjust systems, whether in the realm of education, immigration, or otherwise. We believe God has called us to stand up with those who cannot stand by themselves and love them for no other reason than that he asks us to. UrbanLife’s main offices are located on the east side of City Heights, but also has sites on the west side of City Heights and in the neighborhood of Southeast.