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Press Releases

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Issues Statement Praising Release of Los Angeles’ Pastor Noe Carias

“And yet, while we are grateful, we should never have gone through such a heart wrenching process in the first place. We should be deporting pushers, not pastors. Noe’s story is a powerful reminder of just how desperate our nation is for comprehensive immigration reform.”
—Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, issues the following statement praising the release from detention of Noe Carias, a Los Angeles area Assemblies of God Pastor who had been detained for deportation in July of this year:
“I am overjoyed by the news of Pastor Noe Carias’ release, after over two months of detention by immigration authorities. Most importantly, I am grateful that this man of God will be reunited with his loving wife, Victoria and his two young children.
“From the beginning, the NHCLC stated we would not rest until Pastor Carias was released. Working behind the scenes with the White House, local and state officials as well as both Republican and Democratic members of Congress, we saw a powerful effect of the growing influence of our Hispanic community in action. Through our incredible member churches, friends, partners, co-laborers and prayer warriors, we were privileged to help mobilize a large coalition of Hispanic leaders, calling out, in a unified voice on Noe’s behalf. We are all giving thanks that these efforts were not in vain and that our request was heard loud and clear. We did all of this with the firm belief that access leads to conversations, which leads to conviction, which leads to compassion.”

“And yet, while we are grateful, we should never have gone through such a heart wrenching process in the first place. We should be deporting pushers, not pastors. Noe’s story is a powerful reminder of just how desperate our nation is for comprehensive immigration reform.”
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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME Magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is recognized and identified by Time Magazine, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Charisma Magazine, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, Fox News, CNN, and a number of additional media outlets, publications, and periodicals as America’s largest and most influential Hispanic/Latino Christian organization with 40,118 certified member churches in the United States and chapters in Latin America.
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National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Appoints Juan Rivera As New Executive Director of Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition

Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) also names Bishop Robert Stearns as Chairman
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Rev. Juan Rivera, a well-known pastor from Youngstown OH, as the executive director of the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC). HILC is the pro-Israel arm of the NHCLC, The Hispanic Evangelical Association and CONELA.
“Rev. Rivera’s commitment to Israel is extraordinary. He is well respected within the Christian and Jewish communities both throughout Ohio and nationally,” said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the NHCLC. “Israel is not a side-issue for the NHCLC. It is foundational. We believe that Rev. Rivera is the perfect leader for this pivotal role in this moment of our growth and expansion.”
“I offer my sincere congratulations to Rev. Rivera on his appointment”, said Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, director of community relations and government affairs for the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation. “We in the Jewish community throughout Ohio have great trust in Rev. Rivera’s leadership capacity.”
Previously, Rev. Rivera served as the Ohio Chapter Director of NHCLC and as an Advisory Board Member HILC.
“I’m incredibly excited and grateful to Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and the NHCLC for entrusting me with this important position,” says Rev. Rivera. “My goal, and that of the entire NHCLC, is to continue growing HILC into the largest Hispanic pro-Israel organization in the U.S. and Latin America. Our focus will be on educating our people about Israel through conferences, workshops and trips to Israel. We will also be actively forging new, and strengthening existing partnerships with Jewish people and Jewish organizations locally, nationally and internationally.  Finally, we will work to expand our role as advocates for strong US-Israel relations as well as influencing Latin American governments to adopt strong pro-Israel policies and relations.”
Additionally, Bishop Robert Stearns, Founder and President of Eagles’ Wings and senior leader at the historic Tabernacle Church in Buffalo, NY, has been appointed as Chairman of HILC.
“Though Bishop Stearns is not Hispanic, he has traveled extensively in ministry throughout Latin America for the past 20 years, has led worship in Spanish, and 5 of his books have been translated into Spanish and distributed widely through the Latino evangelical community,” added Rev. Rodriguez.  “He understands Latino Evangelical culture, and he understands Israel. We believe his experience and wisdom will be of great resource to us as we endeavor to grow HILC as the pro-Israel arm and voice of the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals assembled in over 40,118 U.S. churches and over 450,000 churches spread throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora.”
“Every generation has to confront anti-semitism in whatever shape it presents itself to that generation. We will build a fire-wall against all forms of anti-semitism to ensure that ‘Never Again’ truly means never again,” added Rev. Rivera.
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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME Magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.
Rev. Juan Rivera is lead pastor of New Life Church a growing, multi-generational, multi-ethnic, vibrant church located in Poland Ohio a suburb of Youngstown.  In addition to his position as Executive Director of HILC, Pastor Rivera serves in an advisory capacity to the Governor of the State of Ohio by serving on the Ohio Commission of Hispanic/Latino Affairs.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is recognized and identified by Time Magazine, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Charisma Magazine, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, Fox News, CNN, and a number of additional media outlets, publications, and periodicals as America’s largest and most influential Hispanic/Latino Christian organization with 40,118 certified member churches in the United States and chapters in Latin America.
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Dr. Angel Nunez receives appointment as Strategic Partnerships Director of NHCLC

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

May, 2005 – Dr. Angel Nunez, Senior Pastor of The Bi-lingual Church of Baltimore, received appointment by the executive committee as Director of Strategic Partnerships. Dr. Nunez, author of “The Indian Speaks” and “How to Reach Your Vision” has successfully impacted the Latino Church in the USA and abroad. “We believe Dr. Nunez’s passion for Hispanic Americans and his proximity to the Capital enable us to build life long partnerships with the brokers of justice, peace and morality. “, stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of The NHCLC.

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Hispanic Church in America Mobilizes to Assist in Tsunami Aftermath

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

January 1, 2005 – Sacramento, CA — The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference launched a National Effort to mobilize the Hispanic/Latino Church to assist in the Aftermath of the Tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia. In a statement Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., President of The NHCLC stated: “We have never seen such devastation in our lifetime caused by a natural catastrophe. We, as the Hispanic Church are ready to assist relief organizations such as World Relief and others in assisting the millions of broken lives, homes and communities. Our prayers and our thoughts are with all the families touched by the quake and Tsunami. We are contacting the leading Hispanic churches in all 50 states and Puerto Rico and asking them to sow a generous seed via World Relief for this cause. We are also going to work withAGRelief and other similar organizations to assist in this endeavor. Our Board members represent the largest Hispanic Congregations and Denominations in America. We are asking all our constituents to send their donations to World Relief (www.wr.org) and indicate you are members of the NHCLC. This will enable us to keep track of those we need to contact for contributions. “. To join our efforts please contact us at hispanicchurch@aol.com or info@nhclc.org.

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Hispanic NAE Expresses Optimism Concerning Immigration Reform after White House Meeting with Secretary Napolitano…

Washington, D.C., Hispanic Christian Newswire) America’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), The Hispanic National Association of Evangelicals, expressed gratitude and appreciation to President Barack Obama for his recent affirmation of a comprehensive immigration reform policy. This fall, the White House and Congress will work on a comprehensive immigration reform package with expectations of passage in early 2010. President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano met last week in the White House with national groups committed to comprehensive immigration reform including the NHCLC. Secretary Napolitano spoke about accountability. “We must use smart effective enforcement. We must also bring people out of the shadows. We will ensure timely procedures on citizenship back logs and increase efficiency.” Napolitano said. The Secretary went on to add “this bill needs support with ongoing dialogue and a bi-partisan effort. We count on all of you to work together.” The Rev. Eve Nunez, Vice President of Networking for The National Hispanic Leadership Conference, addressed the panel and the Administration stating, “It is critical to invite the faith based leaders to these forums. When we speak of bringing immigrants out of the shadows they will first turn to their Pastors, Priests and Clergy before they confide in law enforcement officials.” Nunez was accompanied in the White House meeting by Dr. Angel Nunez, Senior V.P of the Hispanic N.A.E.” I was encouraged by the attention that was given to our ideas and input. They assured us that these meetings will continue to happen and they were very interested in having the NHCLC help them in contacting pastors in the as they are traveling around the country getting input from many groups. I appreciate President Obama reaffirming his commitment”. “Even though we are appreciative, we continue to encourage the administration to focus on how it can reform immigration laws to address the immediate problems undocumented immigrants face as it pertains to the breakup of families and the protection of the local worker instead of constant focus on enforcement of immigration laws. We need a balanced approach that is not piecemeal but comprehensive, both enforcement and a pathway to citizenship”, added Nunez. “As we begin to frame and debate the specifics of a Comprehensive Immigration Reform proposal, it is important to express gratitude for those who repudiated extremism and political expediency. On behalf of our 25,434 congregations and on behalf of the Hispanic evangelical community, permit us to express heartfelt gratitude to our President for his excellent leadership and moral wherewithal to once again address immigration reform in the context necessary to reconcile our values with the rule of law”, stated Dr. Gilbert Velez, Chairman of the Hispanic National Association of Evangelicals. Many evangelical churches mobilized for the first time around the issue of immigration reform immediately after the House Bill sponsored by James Sensenbrenner. In addition, many of the 12 million undocumented attend Hispanic Evangelical congregations. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference stands recognized by scholars and analysts as the lead evangelical and Hispanic Faith voice for immigration reform. Former Clinton Advisor Sydney Blumenthal credited the organization’s effort as a primary factor in thwarting the Republican plans to deport millions of undocumented individuals.
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Dr. Gilberto Velez, Policy Director for the NHCLC, recognized as one of America’s Top Pastors by the Assemblies of God

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

January, 2005 – Texas — The Assemblies of God denomination recently recognized NHCLC policy director, Dr. Gilberto Velez as a leader in planting Hispanic churches. The following excerpt from the denomination’s website was provided courtesy of the Assemblies of God. Church Planting Among the Hispanics Leading the way in ethnic-church planting has been the Hispanic churches. Iglesia Cristiana Misericordia, a church that began in 1994, is an example of a self-started church-planting endeavor under the leadership of Pastor Gilberto Velez. Gilberto and Velma Velez, who were originally from Puerto Rico, were serving as associate pastors at El Sendero de la Cruz A/G in San Antonio, Texas, while practicing their medical professions. They moved to Laredo to join the staff at a hospital in that border town. The challenge of the 300-mile round-trip to San Antonio on Wednesdays and weekends to serve at El Sendero led them to begin a home Bible study in Laredo with a handful of people in March 1995. Little did Velez dream that this midweek Bible study would blossom into a Hispanic church-planting project. After several years of bivocational ministry in the church, Velez and his wife left their medical careers to become full-time pastors. God honored their step of faith and a fellow medical doctor paid their support for 3 months. At the end of the 3 months, the income of the church was sufficient to meet the needs of the pastors and the ministries of the church. In January 2000, the Iglesia Cristiana Misericordia averaged over 500 on Sunday. They purchased facilities from a private school. Their expanded sanctuary, completed in April 2000, seats 800. To read the full article, please go to: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200004/064_new_church_planting.cfm

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Latino Christian Leaders to Discuss President’s Social Security Proposal

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

February, 2005 – Orlando, Florida — Latino Christian Leaders will meet in Orlando, Florida on March 8th to discuss the President’s Social Security Reform Proposal. “The President recently discussed the effects of his proposal on minority communities. Hispanics share with the Afro-American Community a dramatic disparity as it pertains to retirement and savings accounts. This proposal will effect our communities in an unprecedented manner. We want to respond to the President and members of Congress our concerns and inclinations. “, stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

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Hispanic Christian Leaders Applaud the Confirmation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

February, 2005 – The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is proud to have Alberto Gonzales as the Lead Law Enforcement Officer in our Nation. We believe that his proven leadership and ability to create collaborative strategies to solve very difficult issues will make him one of our nations best AG ever. Our prayers are with him and his department

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Evangelicals go for the green

By:

MSNBC.com and The Washington Post

 

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

Courtesy of MSNBC.com and The Washington Post February 6, 2005 – Seattle, WA — Thanks to the Rev. Leroy Hedman, the parishioners at Georgetown Gospel Chapel take their baptismal waters cold. The preacher has unplugged the electricity-guzzling heater in the immersion baptism tank behind his pulpit. He has also installed energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs throughout the church and has placed water barrels beneath its gutter pipes — using runoff to irrigate the congregation’s all-organic gardens. Such “creation care” should be at the heart of evangelical life, Hedman says, along with condemning abortion, protecting family and loving Jesus. He uses the term “creation care” because, he says, it does not annoy conservative Christians for whom the word “environmentalism” connotes liberals, secularists and Democrats. Going for the green “It’s amazing to me that evangelicals haven’t gone quicker for the green,” Hedman said. “But as creation care spreads, evangelicals will demand different behavior from politicians. The Republicans should not take us for granted.” There is growing evidence — in polling and in public statements of church leaders — that evangelicals are beginning to go for the green. Despite wariness toward mainstream environmental groups, a growing number of evangelicals view stewardship of the environment as a responsibility mandated by God in the Bible. “The environment is a values issue,” said the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals. “There are significant and compelling theological reasons why it should be a banner issue for the Christian right.” In October, the association’s leaders adopted an “Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility” that, for the first time, emphasized every Christian’s duty to care for the planet and the role of government in safeguarding a sustainable environment. “We affirm that God-given dominion is a sacred responsibility to steward the earth and not a license to abuse the creation of which we are a part,” said the statement, which has been distributed to 50,000 member churches. “Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation.” Growing political issue Signatories included highly visible, opinion-swaying evangelical leaders such as Haggard, James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Some of the signatories are to meet in March in Washington to develop a position on global warming, which could place them at odds with the policies of the Bush administration, according to Richard Cizik, the association’s vice president for governmental affairs. Also last fall, Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, weighed in for the first time on global warming. It said that “Christians should make it clear to governments and businesses that we are willing to adapt our lifestyles and support steps towards changes that protect our environment.” The magazine came out in favor of a global warming bill — sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) — that the Bush administration opposed and the Republican-controlled Senate defeated. Polling has found a strengthening consensus among evangelicals for strict environmental rules, even if they cost jobs and higher prices, said John C. Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. In 2000, about 45 percent of evangelicals supported strict environmental regulations, according to Green’s polling. That jumped to 52 percent last year. “It has changed slowly, but it has changed,” Green said. “There is now a lot of ferment out there.” Such ferment matters because evangelicals are politically active. Nearly four out of five white evangelical Christians voted last year for President Bush, constituting more than a third of all votes cast for him, according to the Pew Research Center. The analysis found that the political clout of evangelicals has increased as their cohesiveness in backing the Republican Party has grown. Republicans outnumber Democrats within the group by more than 2 to 1. Uneasy alliance There is little to suggest in recent elections that environmental concerns influenced the evangelical vote — indeed, many members of Congress who receive 100 percent approval ratings from Christian advocacy groups get failing grades from environmental groups. But the latest statements and polls have caught the eye of established environmental organizations. Several are attempting to make alliances with the Christian right on specific issues, such as global warming and the presence of mercury and other dangerous toxins in the blood of newborn children. After the election last fall, leaders of the country’s major environmental groups spent an entire day at a meeting in Washington trying to figure out how to talk to evangelicals, according to Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. For decades, he said, environmentalists have failed to make that connection. “There is a lot of suspicion,” said Schweiger, who describes himself as a conservationist and a person of faith. “There are a lot of questions about what are our real intentions.” Green said the evangelicals’ deep suspicion about environmentalists has theological roots. “While evangelicals are open to being good stewards of God’s creation, they believe people should only worship God, not creation,” Green said. “This may sound like splitting hairs. But evangelicals don’t see it that way. Their stereotype of environmentalists would be Druids who worship trees.” Another reason that evangelicals are suspicious of environmental groups is cultural and has its origins in how conservative Christians view themselves in American society, according to the Rev. Jim Ball, executive director of the Evangelical Environmental Network. The group made its name with the “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign against gas-guzzling cars but recently shifted its focus to reducing global warming. “Evangelicals feel besieged by the culture at large,” Ball said. “They don’t know many environmentalists, but they have the idea they are pretty weird — with strange liberal, pantheist views.” Landmines abound Ball said that the way to bring large numbers of evangelicals on board as political players in environmental issues is to make persuasive arguments that, for instance, tie problems of global warming and mercury pollution to family health and the health of unborn children. He adds that evangelicals themselves — not such groups as the Sierra Club or Friends of the Earth, with their liberal Democratic baggage — are the only ones who can do the persuading. “Environmental groups are always going to be viewed in a wary fashion,” Ball said. “They just don’t have a good enough feel for the evangelical community. There are landmines from the past, and they will hit them without knowing it.” Even for green activists within the evangelical movement, there are landmines. One faction in the movement, called dispensationalism, argues that the return of Jesus and the end of the world are near, so it is pointless to fret about environmental degradation. James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan’s first interior secretary, famously made this argument before Congress in 1981, saying: “God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.” The enduring appeal of End Time musings among evangelicals is reflected in the phenomenal success of the Left Behind series of apocalyptic potboilers, which have sold more than 60 million copies and are the best-selling novels in the country. Haggard, the leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, concedes that this thinking “is a problem that I do have to address regularly in talking to the common man on the street. I tell them to live your life as if Jesus is coming back tomorrow, but plan your life as if he is not coming back in your lifetime. I also tell them that the authors of the Left Behind books have life insurance policies.” This argument is apparently resonating. Green said the notion that an imminent Judgment Day absolves people of environmental responsibility is now a “fringe” belief. Unusual weather phenomena, such as the four hurricanes that battered Florida last year and the melting of the glaciers around the world, have captured the attention of evangelicals and made many more willing to listen to scientific warnings about the dangers of global warming, Haggard said. Pro-life, pro-earth messages mingle At the same time, activists such as Ball from the Evangelical Environmental Network are trying to show how the most important hot-button issue of the Christian right — abortion and the survival of the unborn — has a green dimension. “Stop Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn,” said a banner that Ball carried in last month’s antiabortion march in Washington. Holding up the other end of the banner was Cizik, the National Association of Evangelicals’ chief lobbyist. They handed out carefully footnoted papers that cited federal government studies showing that 1 in 6 babies is born with harmful levels of mercury. The fliers urged Christians not to support the “Clear Skies” act, a Bush administration proposal to regulate coal-burning power plants that are a primary source of mercury pollution. Although Cizik carried the banner and handed out literature that implicitly criticized Bush’s policy on regulating mercury, he conceded that many evangelicals find it difficult to criticize the president. “It is hard to oppose him when he has the moral authority of the office of the president and a record of standing with us on moral issues like abortion,” Cizik said. In Seattle, Hedman says that evangelicals should worry less about the moral authority of the president and more about their biblical obligation to care for Earth. “The Earth is God’s body,” Hedman said in a recent sermon. “God wants us to look after it.”

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