The Common Good

Pastor Mike Goes To Washington

Date: November 29, 2013

When local Pastor Mike McClenahan wrote an opinion piece urging a reasonable solution to immigration, little did he realize it was his ticket to the White House.

The Solana Beach Presbyterian Church minister’s op-ed appeared in the U-T on Oct. 17, On Nov. 10, he found an email on his iPhone from a White House aide. It invited him to a Nov. 13 meeting on immigration reform with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior staff.

The aide, Cesar Chavez’s granddaughter, had read his op-ed, which spoke of the church’s work with illegal immigrants living in the shadows. It stressed the need to create a path to earned citizenship, not amnesty, while also securing our borders.

McClenahan, active in a coalition of advocates for immigration reform in keeping with the biblical values, agreed to come to the meeting. He booked a red-eye flight two nights later, not knowing who else would be there or what role he would play. After arriving at 5:30 a.m., he walked through the National Mall, stopping to pray by the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

The small church pastor wondered why he was among the seven other faith leaders. Included was the powerful president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the CEO of Sojourners, the head of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.