If you are interested in immigration issues but don’t know where to start, here are some resources for you. The categories include theological study resources (including a one-page summary of the House of Bishops Theological Resource), as well as statements from several different faith perspectives; prayers and litanies; organizations involved in immigration advocacy; and a link on finding your legislators. There is also a movie that you can download and use, “We Are All Immigrants,” and a 45-minute presentation outline you can use in your own parish or organization on immigration advocacy.

How to Work with Legislators

The Rev. Dr. R. David Cox, Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Hot Springs, Va., (Diocese of Southwestern Virginia), is also an elected city councilman in Lexington, Va.

His eight-point outline for how to work successfully with legislators:

  • Be early: Don’t wait until the last second to get involved.
  • Be brief: Legislators are extremely busy people, too.
  • Be clear: Make one point, and make it well.
  • Be reasonable: Legislators can only do so much. Ask of them only what they can accomplish.
  • Be appropriately passionate: Don’t overdo it.
  • Be nice: Courtesy counts for everything.
  • Be grateful: Send a note and thank them for their time and effort, and if they vote the way you want, let them know you appreciate that.
  • Make connections, both with legislators and other organizations, denominations and jurisdictions: If you can work together with others, so much the better. See what you can do to work with other cities and counties as well, so that there can be a greater sense of groundswell.

Government Contact Information

Not sure who your delegate is? Want to know who your state senator is? Find out on the Virginia General Assembly search engine, Who’s My Legislator? On, you can also follow specific legislation as it moves through the General Assembly.

Litanies and Prayers
  • Two free fact sheets available for distribution in your congregation or community group. Faith and Immigration (3.4Mb PDF) highlights the religious calling to welcome the stranger, while Society & Immigration (3.4Mb PDF) evaluates common misconceptions about immigrants.
  • Explore their website for Bible Studies, theological reflections, and more. 
Presentation for Use at Your Church

A suggested format for the forum:

  • Opening Prayer (Suggested: For the Oppressed, BCP p. 826)
  • Presentation of the House of Bishops Pastoral Letter with a short discussion (15 minutes)
  • Discussion on why we should be involved in this issue. (15 minutes)
  • Distribution of materials (5 minutes)
  • Closing prayer (Suggested: For Those Who Influence Public Opinion, BCP p. 827)

Both the Rev. Lauren R. Stanley and Patrick Getlein, Communications Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, are available to help with presenting immigration advocacy forums.

Lauren Stanley can be contacted at or at 703-678-3892.
Patrick Getlein can be contacted at or at 804-643-2474.

Theological Study Resources
  • The Episcopal Church, at General Convention 2009, passed B006, on Immigration: Economic Justice Implications.
  • Texas Bishops call for immigration reform: On October 15, 2010, five bishops in Texas (from the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, ELCA, United Methodist and Presbyterian churches) issued a call for “humane immigration reform.” Their full statement can be accessed online.
  • The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations issued a statement in April 2010 calling for comprehensive immigration reform following the passage of Arizona’s immigration bill. The statement can be found online.
  • In addition, the Office of Government Relations has three other resources on immigration:
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ( passed its Social Policy Resolution on Immigration in 2009. The entire text can be found online.
  • An Advent Devotional on immigration, entitled Strangers Among Us, is offered by United Methodist Reverend Larry Jent, It can be found online.
  • A Pastoral Reflection by The Rt. Rev. Paul S. Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, entitled Immigration and our Common Dignity.
  • The Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington issued a Resolution on Immigration in 2008.
  • In 2009, more than 70 national denominations and organizations, as well as 145 local organizations, congregations, dioceses and religious orders, and hundreds of individuals, called on Congress to enact humane immigration reform.
A Theological Resource from the House of Bishops

Summary of the House of Bishops’ Theological Resource on Migration and Immigration:
The Nation and the Common Good: Reflections on Immigration Reform

The House of Bishops’ Theological Resource on Migration and Immigration is a thoughtful approach to the questions the United States faces concerning immigration. The document points out, in the “Introduction,” that the earliest followers of Jesus “organized themselves as a community geared to transform Jesus’ personal example into a collective way of life that could challenge prevailing cultural and social norms.” The Bishops point out that this has “practical consequences … since it shifts the focus away from advocacy to formation, from the voting booth to our prayer life.”

The Bishops examine the “Problem of Nationalism” and then discuss the issue of “Resident Aliens: Then and Now.” In that section, they examine Leviticus 19:330-34 and point out that the idea of citizenship has greatly changed since that passage was written. The modern state only developed in the last 500 years. Prior to that, there was no such thing as “illegal immigration;” rather, people were considered “resident aliens” if they did not belong to the ethnic group of a nation-state. Since 1500 C.E., however, with the rise of the modern state, nations are defined more by borders than ethnicities; now, where a person is born is more important than ever.

Under the section “Church and Nation,” the Bishops ask how it is possible to respond to Jesus’ call for radical openness in a modern state with laws governing who is a citizen. To answer that question, the Bishops turn to Richard Hooker, architect of an Anglican theology of nationhood. Hooker, they say, “seems to be suggesting that … governance must function not simply to protect us from one another, but to maximize the opportunities for communion and fellowship with one another.” After presenting a synopsis of Hooker’s thinking about nationhood and his “vision of the nation as a laboratory for the love of neighbor,” they go on to say, “If Hooker is right that this emergent national covenant implies a decision to value all human beings without distinction (including those who are not born or naturalized into the nation), then it is no surprise that our nation began instantly to welcome wave after wave of immigrants.”

In “The Challenge Before Us,” the Bishops acknowledge the harsh history of the United States’ treatment of African slaves, Native Americans and many waves of immigrants throughout the past 200+ years. They also point out the “tension between embracing and excluding the other,” both as a nation and as individuals.

In “Witness and Action,” the Bishops state: “As a spiritual body politic whose emerging goal is to display Jesus’ radical welcome to everyone, it is clear that we have an obligation to advocate for every undocumented worker as already being a citizen of God’s reign on earth and one for whom Christ died. This must always be our starting point.”

The Bishops present the competing calls on immigration reform and take into consideration the competing concerns voiced by many in this country. “The voice and perspective of our fellow citizens deserves attention. However, it does not mean that we turn our backs on resident aliens and the world community they represent, still less that we place our fellowship with fellow citizens above our fellowship with Christ, but that we remain true to nationhood’s more limited and preliminary goal, which is to strive for genuine communion and fellowship within its own borders, for the sake of a wider communion even now.”

They add: “We do not discount the concerns of our fellow citizens regarding the threat uncontrolled immigration poses to our safety and economic well-being. We insist, however, that these concerns be approached within the broader context of a national commitment and covenant to inclusion and fellowship across all lines for the sake of the common good.Furthermore, we profess that inhumane policies directed against undocumented persons (raids, separation of families, denial of health services) are intolerable on broadly religions and humanitarian grounds … With that in mind, we look to another passage from the Torah: ‘There shall be one law for you and for the resident stranger; it shall be a law for all time throughout the ages. You and the stranger shall be alike before the Lord’ (Numbers 15:15).”

Other Organizations

The Diocese offers these organizations and websites as resources for you to explore, and does not necessarily endorse or recommend all content and materials produced by these organizations.

  • For Virginians, the most important resources is the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, which “empowers Virginians to create social justice for all advocating for systemic change. We envision a world where people of all faiths cooperate to create compassionate communities that are just, peaceful, equitable and sustainable.” The Diocese of Virginia is but one of many supporters and members of the center.
    More information can be found at
  • The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis in Richmond has an excellent analysis on the tax contributions of undocumented immigrants in Virginia, whose contributions total in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • The Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) is a coalition of non-profit organizations serving the immigrant community in Virginia. Its mission is “to serve as a working alliance among organizations in Virginia that serve or support the interest of the Latino community in order to empower the community and secure equal treatment, equal opportunity and equal representation for Latinos/Hispanics.”
  • Sojourners is a progressive Christian commentary on faith, politics and culture seeing to build a movement of spirituality and social change. “Our mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world.” Sojourners has several resources on immigration, including sermon preparation, studies guides and past articles on the theology of immigration.
  • Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) of Northern Virginia “is a broad-based, multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-issue, multi-county, strictly non-partisan citizens’ organization dedicated to making change on social justice issues – such as affordable housing, healthcare, immigration – affecting the lives of low- and middle-income residents in four Northern Virginia jurisdictions: Prince William, Fairfax, and Arlington counties as well as the City of Alexandria. Our membership includes more than 45 houses of worship.”
  • Learning for Justice, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, has resources for improving tolerance in a variety of settings. They offer specific resources on immigration as well.