The Presiding Bishop's Statement on the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride

September 24, 2003

The 74th General Convention of our Church, acknowledging the urgency of protecting and enhancing the civil and economic rights of immigrants, called us to "encourage support of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride by educating its members to the importance of immigration law reform, organizing congregations to support the ride." In the spirit of this timely resolution, I urge Episcopalians throughout the country to support through prayer, advocacy and, where possible, participation in this nationwide event occurring from September 20 through October 4, 2003.

The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride was organized on behalf of some of the most vulnerable and underappreciated members of our society. This effort, which involves a cross-section of many thousands of people from labor, immigrant and civil rights groups, will make the contributions of immigrants to our common life highly visible.

Historically, the Episcopal Church has been committed to the belief that extending hospitality to the stranger is a gospel imperative which we Christians are called to incarnate into our personal and collective witness. So, as we seek to serve Christ in all persons and strive for justice, we celebrate the gifts which immigrants bring to our communities and, in many instances, our congregations. We rejoice in the "ever-widening circles of fellowship" that our relationships with these newcomers provide.

Therefore, it is especially important at a time when the rights of immigrants are being challenged, that we embrace the Freedom Ride as a powerful symbol of our shared plea that justice be done for those whose labor sustains us, whose gifts enrich us, and whose courage inspires us.

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA