Nebraska Faith Leaders and Public Call for Action on Immigration Reform This Year

[singlepic id=119 w=320 h=240 float=left]Yesterday, we were honored to take part in a powerful event highlighting the continuing urgency for immigration reform. A large gathering of prominent local leaders from diverse faith traditions held a prayer vigil with people of faith and good will calling for the humane treatment of all immigrant families and a workable immigration policy to help us all move forward together. See photos.

Dozens of faith leaders participated in Omaha and other locations around the state to lift up the protection of immigrants and their families, the unity of Nebraska communities, and to pray for moral leadership from Nebraska’s Congressional leaders and President Obama.

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“As Congress prepares to address immigration reform this fall, a growing movement of people of faith is calling for reform that upholds our values, protects the dignity of all immigrants, and keeps families together,” said Pastor Damon Laaker of Omaha.

On a beautiful evening in Omaha’s Columbus Park, participants gathered in a circle with candles and signs.

“It is time for workable solutions that help us move forward together,” said Fr. Ernesto Medina of Omaha. “We have a moral responsibility to know how the system works and make sure it is something we can stand behind. Nebraska families and communities are urgently in need of a solution.”

The prayer vigil is part of The Month of Action for Immigration Reform, a nationwide effort led by people of faith calling on their elected officials to enact rational and humane immigration reform this year. Faith communities around the country are participating in The Month of Action by hosting prayer vigils, potlucks and town hall meetings, and meeting with their members of Congress to encourage swift action for immigration reform. See

“Prayer in the Park” faith leaders and speakers included:

Rabbi Aryeh Azriel, Omaha (Jewish)

Rev. Dr. Chuck Bentjen, State Policy Office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Lutheran)

Rev. Liz Connor, Omaha (Lutheran)

Sister Kathleen Erickson, Sisters of Mercy, Omaha (Catholic)

Maria Luisa Gastón, College of St. Mary, Omaha (Catholic)

Fr. Bill Grant, Lincoln (Catholic)

Rev. Dr. Damon Laaker, Omaha (Lutheran)

Rev. Hkun Gam Lahpai, Omaha (Baptist)

Very Rev. Ernesto Medina, Omaha (Episcopal)

Noe Ramon, Pixan Ixim, Omaha (Catholic)

Fr. Neal José Wilkinson, SJ, Omaha (Catholic)

The following individuals simultaneously offered prayers from their locations across the state:

Rev. Juan Aguilar, Grand Island (Lutheran)

Pastor Juan Aguilar, Lexington (Evangelical)

Pastor Rogelio Arteaga, Lincoln

Pastor Israel Avelar, Crete (Evangelical)

Pastor Carlos Barcenas, Lincoln (Evangelical)

Pastor Gabriel Barrios, Grand Island (Evangelical)

Pastor Maria Cristina Camey, Fremont (Evangelical)

Pastor Victor Corrales, Crete (Evangelical)

Rev. Sara Dingman, Lincoln (Presbyterian)

Fr. Jason Emerson, Omaha (Episcopal)

Fr. Antonio Espinoza, Schuyler (Catholic)

Maria Teresa Gaston, Creighton Center for Service and Justice, Omaha (Catholic)

Rev. Jeff Hagaman, Crete (United Church of Christ/Congregationalist)

Pastor Ricardo Hidalgo, Lincoln (Evangelical)

Rev. Laura Hollister, Schuyler (Presbyterian)

Sister Marilyn Ketteler, Fremont (Catholic)

Marilyn Mecham, Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska, statewide (Interchurch)

Pastor Marvin de la Rosa, Crete (Evangelical)

Rev. Jay Vetter, Grand Island (Methodist)

Fr. Damian Zuerlein, Papillion (Catholic)

Many of the participating groups are also part of the Reform Immigration for America national campaign. Organizations and individuals interested in joining the campaign can do so by visiting:

or in Spanish:

Individuals interested in joining are encouraged to text “justice” or “justicia” to 69866.

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