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Statement by Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference on Passing of Robert Gittelson

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Samuel Rodriguez made the following statement today following the death of his close friend and colleague Robert Gittelson. Gittelson served on the board of directors of NHCLC/Conela and was vice president for government affairs.

"Robert Gittelson was more than the vice president for governmental affairs. He was my friend, brother and co-laborer. His commitment and advocacy on behalf of religious liberty, immigrants, righteousness and justice made him a prominent voice on Capitol Hill. I loved him and will miss him beyond imagination. This I can say about Robert without any hesitation; he loved God, his family and the least of these. Robert did justice, loved mercifully, and walked humbly before God. Our prayers and love are with Patty and the rest of the family during this difficult time," said Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of NHCLC/Conela.

Mr. Gittelson was a leader within the fight for immigration reform.  He aggressively met with senators, congressmen, the White House administration and their staffs, participating in well over 300 meetings in the nation's capital, strongly advocating for a legislative solution to the immigration crisis in America and on behalf of the unaccompanied children at the border.

"Robert Gittelson was an outstanding leader and follower of Jesus with a heart to serve others, especially the Latino evangelical community. We will greatly miss him," said Dr. Albert L. Reyes, president and CEO of Buckner International and member of the NHCLC/Conela board of directors.

"Robert Gittelson was a tireless professional who relentlessly pursued immigration justice for those who had been manacled by the system he strove to change for the better.  When immigration reform comes to the United States, politicians, students, and all who fought for change will remember Robert Gittelson and know his clarion call for reform was finally heard," said Dr. Carlos Campo.

An alumnus of the University of Southern California, Robert Gittelson spent almost 30 years as an apparel manufacturer and importer. He built his business working shoulder to shoulder with immigrants and had a thorough understanding of the value that the immigrant population brings to the economy, as well as society. A frequent speaker at symposiums and panel discussions across America on immigration across America, he was the author of more than 80 published articles, essays, and journal articles on the subject of comprehensive immigration reform. As President of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Gittelson was also a founding member of the Evangelical Immigration Table.

Upon joining NHCLC, Robert Gittelson said, "In meeting Samuel Rodriguez in early 2010, I realized that he was blessed by God to be a natural leader. As we worked together on immigration, we slowly developed an appreciation for the goals that we shared, not just on immigration, but on larger societal goals as well.

"When Samuel asked that I join him as the vice president for governmental affairs for the NHCLC, he asked that I pray on my decision, and I did," Gittelson continued. "I am certain that the Lord intends for me to continue to work with the NHCLC, and I am committed to work tirelessly in support of the goals and aspirations of that worthy and noble institution."

Robert Gittelson resided with Patricia, his wife of 31 years, in Los Angeles, California. Patricia is a practicing immigration attorney. Together with Gittelson they have two adult sons, Alex, a graduate of the University of Southern California, and Jesse, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.

NHCLC/Conela is the largest Hispanic Christian organization serving millions of Evangelicals, 40,118 U.S. churches and more than 500,000 churches across the globe. Seeking to reconcile evangelist Billy Graham's message of salvation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march of prophetic activism, the NHCLC/Conela emphasizes "7 Directives" of Life, Family, Compassionate Evangelism, Stewardship, Justice, Education and Youth. For additional information, visit http://www.nhclc.org.

SOURCE National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

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