Another group of Valley religious leaders is speaking out about immigration issues and calling for an end to the "hateful rhetoric" they say is being directed to those in this country without legal documents.
A group called Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform say the election year debate surrounding the issue, fed by division over failure of Congress to pass immigration reforms last year, is creating an ugly climate that conflicts with the Christian tradition of offering hospitality to the stranger.
"In Arizona, a number of local and state officials have responded by engaging in public conversation that is dividing communities, confusing enforcement procedures and creating an unwelcoming spirit for many seeking to make Arizona their home," the CCIR states in an announcement for a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday at the offices of Neighborhood Ministries, 1929 W. Fillmore St., Phoenix. "A group of faith leaders across the religious spectrum have come together to say, 'Enough is enough, and it is time for change.'"
Leading the group of pastors speaking out is the Rev. Gary Kinnaman, founder and former pastor of Word of Grace (now City of Grace) Church in Mesa and Scottsdale. Kinnaman said the effort grew out of efforts launched 1 1/2 years ago with the Arizona Ecumenical Council and members' concerns at the way undocumented visitors are treated.
In recent months, clergy organizations, one by one, along with lay church members, have issued statements mostly critical of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for ordering deputies to conduct sweeps through communities to find and arrest people without documents to be in the U.S.
Others expected to speak Monday are the Rev. Darryl DelHousaye,, president of Phoenix Seminary who served 25 years as senior pastor of Scottsdale Bible Church, and the Rev. Benjamin Thomas Jr., senior minister of Tanner Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Phoenix. Also speaking will be Neighborhood Association Ministries president Kit Danley.
The CCIR describes itself as a "coalition of Christian organizations, churches and leaders from across the theological and political spectrum" united for comprehensive immigration reform. "We share a set of common moral and theological principles that compel us to love and care for the stranger among us," it says.