Local Churches Ramping Up Awareness Ahead of Washington's Impending Immigration Reform Campaign

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Since the popular mind has been consumed by rising unemployment and the health-care debate, comprehensive immigration reform -- and any potential momentum to broker a bipartisan compromise on the explosive issue -- has been shoved to the wayside. Yet a network of faith-based groups that have advocated for immigrants is organizing to bring the issue back to the forefront as Washington prepares to address it early next year. 

Among the churches featured in a just-released Center for American Progress report, "Loving Thy Neighbor: Immigration Reform and Communities of Faith," is the First United Methodist Church in Stephenville. Six months ago, the Reverend Dean Reed joined forces with Dallas engineer and immigration-reform advocate Lori Stafford to start the Welcoming Immigrants Network, or WIN. With more than 100 members, the group -- like most of those featured in the report -- stresses Leviticus's exhortation to love the stranger "as thyself" and seeks to educate people about problems with the current immigration system. WIN has held prayer vigils and educational events that aim to prepare people to weigh in on reform options.

"We seek to educate people about the problem, tell them how they can take action, and give them opportunities to connect with others of like heart and faith," Reed was quoted as saying in the report. We have a call into him -- if and when we have an update, we'll post it.

Reed and WIN host "An Evening of Compassion" at the Polytechnic United Methodist Church in Fort Worth on Sunday at 7 p.m. The event will include a prayer vigil calling for reform, a screening of the documentary, Made in LA, about garment industry workers who endure sub-standard conditions, as well as comments from state Senator Lon Burnam and area pastors.

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