Register today for VBS 2022!

Immigrant Hope Gainesville

By Porter Horne

The journey to opening Immigrant Hope Gainesville began more than 3 years ago in the winter of 2019, when I was asked to organize what became our Welcoming the Stranger event June 1, which some of you may remember.  It was during those preparations that I became aware that the US Department of Justice has a program to recognize non-profits to meet a particular need for immigrants to interact with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with success and at a cost they can afford.  DOJ then accredits non-profit staff to sign as preparer when forms are submitted to USCIS just as a lawyer would.

I continued the journey to opening Immigrant Hope Gainesville in the fall of 2019.  In September, I attended a week long training in Basic Immigration Law.  In October, God arranged for me to meet a daughter of the EFCA pastor who founded Immigrant Hope more than a decade ago, with several sites operating coast to coast.  Immigrant Hope is a network of church-based immigration legal aid clinics. They help local churches to set up and run these clinics as part of their outreach to immigrants in their community. They believe that by providing excellent legal services, churches can show their immigrant neighbors the love of God, build relationships based on trust, and open doors to share the Gospel and make disciples.

I first presented Immigrant Hope Gainesville to the Creekside elders in March 2020.  That, along with many other Creekside possibilities, got swept aside by COVID, but with the encouragement of Steve Gregg and the elders I continued to prepare.  The Immigrant Hope Gainesville launch committee formed with Steve Gregg, Knox Gilmore, Ralph Chamberlain, Ericka Ghersi-Holth, Gianluca Cueva, John Edmands, Natalie van Hoose and Beth Alexander.  We presented again to the elders on March 15, 2022 with Glen Schrieber, our district superintendent and a member of the national Board for Immigrant Hope, in attendance.

With the affirmation received from the elders March 15, we have filed our application with the State of Florida as a non-profit corporation.  We have already begun to meet with immigrants by appointment to screen them for pathways to success and to prepare the forms and supporting documentation for submission to USCIS.  We have also been reaching out to the immigrant community thru immigrant churches, social media, and cooperation with the Latina Women’s League to teach citizenship classes.  In addition, we refer to other immigrant support organizations for needs that we are not prepared to meet.

Our vision is to have an organization that is deeply connected to the local immigrant communities, supported financially by Christians who care, and staffed with a combination of volunteers and paid staff who share the mission and have the skills needed to move the ministry forward.  We hope to have Immigrant Hope Gainesville DOJ Recognition and Accreditation completed by the end of 2022.

I would love to answer questions and discuss Immigrant Hope Gainesville with you at any time and place that you choose!  You can reach me at 352-327-8371 or via email to  We need prayer and volunteers . . . in that order.‬