Churches Helping Families Threatened with Deportation

CHICAGO, IL (June 14, 2011) – Four Evangelical Covenant churches have formed the North Side Family Support Network to help families threatened with deportation.

Churches in the network are Grace Covenant Church, Resurrection Covenant Church, New Community Covenant Church, and Iglesia del Pacto Evangelico Grace. The churches were inspired in part by the denomination’s 2006 Resolution on Immigration, says Pam Hubbard, a member of Grace Covenant.

The resolution states in part that the denomination “seeks to faithfully welcome both documented and undocumented immigrants with the love and peace of Christ as well as stand in solidarity as a people who bear good news in thought, word, and deed. The doors of our churches must remain open to all that would receive God’s saving Word.”

Members of the churches began meeting with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to learn the basics of immigration policy, says Hubbard. They have offered to provide assistance in areas of transportation, childcare, legal assistance, food and housing.

Some have been visiting the Broadview Detention Center in the mornings to join several Catholic sisters who pray for and with persons who are being deported, immediately before the deportees get on buses to leave the country. “We also practiced leading a Know Your Rights Workshop, so that we could prepare people for what to do or not to do if detained,” Hubbard says.

Click here to read more of Hubbard’s passion and the honor her church bestowed in 2007, recognizing her contributions.

The network recently had its first opportunity to provide legal assistance, says Flor Retamal of Iglesia de Pacto.

The group raised $5,000 in cash and pledges to create a revolving bond fund to help a woman who had been detained, as well as assist future potential deportees. The network then posted the woman’s bail.

As several members at Iglesia del Pacto were ending their prayer meeting, “We had God’s answer to prayer in front of our eyes,” says Retamal. “The person we were helping entered through our church doors. She arrived from El Paso, Texas, at about 8 p.m. and she came straight to church.”

The woman received an emotional response. “Some people were laughing, some were crying, overall we gave honor and glory to God,” Retamal says.

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