FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – More than 250 pastors and other evangelical leaders gathered in Washington D.C., April 29, for the Evangelical Immigration Table to discuss and answer questions concerning immigration reform and encourage the U.S. Congress to take action.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president and former SBC president Paige Patterson joined Atlanta-area pastor and former SBC president Bryant Wright and others at the event to support immigration reform.

“I believe that we are at a point in this country where we are very much on the verge of acting unjustly,” Patterson told reporters during a press conference. “And it is my desire to see the fear of God inform all of our actions.”

Patterson pointed out that the United States has always been known as a generous country that readily provides help and relief to other countries in need. He believes the nation needs to continue that by helping those from other countries who come to the US.

“I believe the fear of God informing our actions would cause us to reach out to many people in this country from many different origins who are not known lawbreakers, not workers of wickedness, but simply needing an opportunity,” Patterson said. “We cannot afford on the issue of immigration reform to be anything other than kind and generous.”

Patterson noted that although weather and distance prevented others from coming, each person in attendance represented many others who support the reform. For example, Patterson said, Southwestern Seminary has many international students on campus, most of whom support immigration reform, as do many Texas pastors and church members.

“They don’t want amnesty, and they do want to be sure the borders are carefully controlled,” Patterson explained. “Given those two things, they know that the compassion of Christ is to reach out to those who are among us. Therefore, they support—by the hundreds of thousands, enthusiastically—what we’re doing.”

Patterson also answered one reporter’s question concerning the support of the Republican Party, saying part of the goal of the event was to let the Republicans know that they, as the people, are in favor of reform. He said he believes they will receive support from most of the Republicans.

After speaking to the issue, Patterson said he was grateful for the opportunity to show support and “to see to it that America continues to be the country that fears God and that reaches out in kindness and love to everyone who is placed here.”