Letter to Presbyterians on immigration and Big Tent

Legislation regarding immigration has prompted church leaders to take notice for some time. Indiana's attempt to pass SB 590 has not only added to the ongoing concerns, but more specifically, concerns for the biennial Big Tent event scheduled for June 30-July 3 in Indianapolis. The following letter from Grayde Parsons and Linda Valentine reiterates the position of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to ensure that all are welcomed. Please take a few moments to explore the links within the letter to learn more:

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings. As we enter Lent, we are mindful of the death of the one in whom we find our life. May this season be one of many blessings to you and your congregation. The purpose of this letter is to inform you about the developments in immigration law in Indiana and the response of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which is in keeping with a resolution adopted by the 219th General Assembly (2010).

On February 22 the Indiana Senate passed an immigration bill, SB 590. This piece of legislation permits local and state law enforcement officers to inquire about an individual’s immigration status when the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is in the United States without authorization. Similar legislation has been opposed by faith leaders because of the potential for racial profiling.

PC (USA) congregations, not just in Indiana, but across the United States are led by Ministers of Word and Sacrament, elders, and deacons of all backgrounds, races, national origins, and genders. Laws like the one proposed by Indiana would affect our local worshipping communities and visitors to those states. The 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) felt called to stand in solidarity with those who would be affected by such laws and adopted a resolution that calls for Presbyterians to refrain from holding national meetings in states with legislation like SB 590. Presbyterians prayed and engaged in debate regarding this action, which you can view by clicking here. The actions taken by the General Assembly guide the work of our denomination because commissioners and delegates are representatives of presbyteries across the country. You can learn about this representation by reading this short explanation.

The second biennial Big Tent is scheduled to take place June 30‐July 3, 2011 in Indianapolis. During this time, we will worship God and celebrate growing Christ’s church deep and wide. In order to ensure that all are welcomed to God’s tent, the progress of SB 590 will determine if the Big Tent will be relocated. An integral part of being together is breaking bread and joining in community, but our celebration would be hampered if one part of the body were to suffer harassment or intimidation in traveling to Big Tent.

The members of the Indiana House have been informed of the concerns of the Presbyterian Church (USA), including the impacts of SB 590 on our worshipping communities in Indiana, as well as convening the Big Tent in Indianapolis. We also wanted to communicate with you the actions that have been taken to honor the policy and resolution set forth by the 219th General Assembly.

We look forward to being together for the Big Tent and hope that you will be able to join us.

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