by Norman Merchant, Associated Press, 6/30/17.
HOUSTON (AP) — On one of his recent visits to the home of an immigrant family, Julio Barquero asked everyone sitting in the living room to stand and join hands. They formed a circle, closed their eyes, and prayed.
“Help us in the name of God,” Barquero, a lay minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), said in Spanish. “And help the Latino community and the state of Texas.”
Barquero is among pastors serving Texas’ estimated 1.5 million people living in the U.S. illegally who are offering new programs and, in some cases, visiting families fearful of crackdowns on immigration. A new Texas law targeting so-called sanctuary cities comes just as immigration arrests have gone up dramatically in the state’s biggest cities…
World Relief, which works with evangelical churches nationally, said about 35 percent of regional leaders in a recent survey said pastors they supervise were concerned about declines in church attendance. A spokesman for the group, Matthew Soerens, said local leaders were trying to prepare members “for any circumstance,” while also pointing out that most immigrants are unlikely to face deportation.
Barquero and his wife, Lucy, conduct weekly meetings by telephone with people who are afraid or unable to go to church. They also make occasional home visits around Houston…
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