The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is launching a new initiative that will provide legal help to immigrants concerning U.S. immigration laws and facilitate outreach opportunities for churches.
Baptist Immigrant Services, led by Hispanic strategy coordinator Amaury Santos and immigrant ministries strategist Larry Phillips, will operate offices across the state, according to a convention announcement.
The first center is set to open this fall in Lincolnton, N.C., with others launching gradually at later dates. Each location will have advisers on staff that are certified by the U.S. Department of Justice to provide legal counsel to immigrants.
Santos and Phillips have been involved in similar ministry efforts for the convention in partnership with a nonprofit organization in Raleigh called the Council on Immigrant Relations (CIR).
“We will not be activists taking political positions on immigration,” Santos was quoted as saying in the announcement, “but we will help immigrants who are here get sound legal counsel as they file forms or meet with immigration officials.”
A resolution passed by messengers at the 2015 BSC annual meeting called the arrival of immigrants “a divine opportunity” and prompted convention leaders to establish Baptist Immigrant Services.
The resolution also urged churches to “pursue opportunities to tangibly meet the needs of immigrants within their community as a demonstration of the love of Christ and in order to build relationships so as to more effectively be able to proclaim the hope of the gospel.”
BSC staff will lead a breakout session called “Loving Your Neighbor Through Immigration Issues” at this year’s annual meeting about the work of Baptist Immigrant Services.
Read the full announcement at ncbaptist.org.