Statement on Compassion and Justice for Immigrants and Refugees
General Commission on Religion and Race
Board of Directors
March 16, 2017
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 19:33-34 (NIV)
We, the Board of Directors and staff of the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) recently journeyed to the border dividing U.S. and Mexico to see and experience firsthand the realities of migration, an issue of global relevance. We heard stories of mothers separated from their children without warning. We saw the militarized presence at the border. We experienced the massive wall extending farther than the eye could see and felt the pain of division that walls cause between members of families, churches and communities.
GCORR's mission is to build the capacity of The United Methodist Church to be contextually relevant and to reach more people, younger people and more diverse people in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We are tasked with the responsibility to be present, engaged and supportive of efforts to tear down the physical and relational walls that separate humanity, thus our concern for immigrants and refugees. As a result of this journey, the biblical call to love and serve the stranger among us has been forged upon our hearts and minds, and leads us to step forth in solidarity with immigrant and refugee people.
As United Methodists, we know well and affirm the positions of The United Methodist Church on matters of immigration as stated our Books of Discipline and Resolutions respectively. These positions denounce all forms of inhospitality, exclusion and violence toward immigrant and refugee people and encourage education, advocacy and relationship building among all cultures. We also affirm that the time for just and comprehensive immigration reform legislation in every place where immigration is a pressing issue is long overdue.
Therefore, on behalf of the General Commission on Religion and Race we commit to:
§ Model in our local ministry contexts what it means to extend ourselves in love and to promote justice for the immigrants and refugees in our communities;
§ Continue to educate ourselves and others on the plight of immigrants and refugees who leave their homelands in search of a better life for themselves and their families;
§ Create space for the mothers, fathers and children who risk and at times lose their lives crossing deserts and oceans to escape poverty, violence and oppression to be heard, valued and treated justly; and
§ Support GCORR in the development of resources to assist churches in relating to and serving our immigrant neighbors in more compassionate and culturally competent ways.
And, we prayerfully call on the people of The United Methodist Church at every level to:
§ Welcome the immigrant and refugee in your midst;
§ Consider becoming a sanctuary church or providing for the needs of immigrants and refugees in some other way;
§ Seek opportunities to quell the fear and hate speech aimed at immigrant and refugee communities by rejecting all attempts to polarize, stereotype and discriminate against them; and
§ Participate in legislative, humanitarian and community actions that honor the humanity of all people including immigrants and refugees and that provide a clear and just path to legal citizenship and/or work status.
As Christians we are called to be peacemakers and bridge builders. We believe that now is the time for the church of Jesus Christ to serve the world as peacemakers and bridge builders. We do this in faithfulness to the one who through an act of unconditional love and sacrifice, abolished oppressive laws and tore down the dividing wall of hostility that existed between members of the human family so that there might be unity and reconciliation with God (Ephesians 2:14-16). As board members of GCORR, we are committed to this work and seek to be in partnership with others who are as well. We continue to pray for the welfare and safety of immigrants and refugees around the world. We also continue to pray for The United Methodist Church whose mission to "make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world" must include acts of compassionate care and justice for immigrants and refugees.
Resolutions #3281 and 6029, 2016 Book of Resolutions; and Social Principles ¶ 162H, 2016 Book of Discipline.
From the Desk of Rev. Karen Cook
I heard a commentary today that reminded me that “We win!”
No matter what is going on in this world; “We Win!”
John 16:33 reminds us: “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
So, we just need to First do no harm, do good and stay in love with God! 3 simple rules to get us through as believers of Jesus Christ.
In response to current climate around Refugees and Immigrants Bishop Bruce Ough suggest, “When we abandon strangers who are at risk of bigotry, xenophobia and violence, we not only destroy their hope, we destroy our own souls,” he said. “I call on the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress to rescind the harmful executive orders and save the soul of our country.”
To see other responses from United Methodist leaders, see link: http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/faith-leaders-urge-all-to-welcome-strangers-refugees
According to World Relief Columbus, this Executive Order on Friday regarding the refugee program and immigration process affects agencies like World Relief http://worldreliefcolumbus.org/ and CRIS (Community Refugee and Immigration Services (http://www.crisohio.org/ and clients in the following ways:
1. There is now a 4-month moratorium on refugee resettlement…this means that there will be no arrivals of refugees for at least the next 4 months.
2. Syrian refugees are indefinitely banned from resettlement to the U.S.
3. The arrival numbers have decreased for the fiscal year (October 1, 2016-September 30, 2017) from 110,000 to 50,000.
Given these facts, they are losing 75% of their budget. There are still refugee clients in Columbus who need these services; they also need staff in place for when the resettlement program re-opens; and they need staff to be engaged in education and advocacy with the community now.
Here are some suggestions on what can we do:
- Tell your local, state and federal representatives that your community Welcomes Refugees. #standwithrefugees to find your governor, state legislators, mayor, and local officials, click here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.
- CALL 1-866-940-2439 three times to be connected with your representative and both senators.
- Tell Senate: Oppose the Muslim Ban by going to https://act.amnestyusa.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1839&ea.campaign.id=63254 and sign the form.
- Donate funds to World Relief: http://worldreliefcolumbus.org/
- Donate funds to CRIS:http://www.crisohio.org/
Refugee Welcome Kits
While we know that Refugee Welcome Kits will again be needed, the most imperative need right now is for funds to be used to sustain programs for which funding has been suspended.
This year, World Relief Columbus will resettle several refugee families in Central Ohio. These families have fled persecution in their home country and are beginning new lives here in Columbus, Ohio. We invite you to join us in welcoming them to their new homes by building refugee Welcome Kits. Choose the various kits from the lists and shop on your own, or you may wish to purchase from Amazon and the items will be shipped directly to a new refugee family via their office.
Step 1. Log on to http://worldreliefcolumbus.org/welcome-kits
Step 2. Click on the kit or kits you’d like to purchase
Step 3. Add each item in the wish list to your cart
Step 4. Check out as usual, and when it prompts you for a shipping address, make sure to choose World Relief Columbus's Gift Registry Address to have items shipped directly to our office at 4889 Sinclair Rd Ste 206 Columbus, OH 43229.
You may purchase items at your favorite store and drop them off at: Capitol Area District Offices, 2545 Farmers Drive, Suite 350, Columbus, Ohio 43235, 9:00 am-4:30 pm, or call and we will pick items up
Donations are always needed and welcome!
For more information on how your church can participate in the District Refugee and Immigration initiative contact Rev. Karen Cook, kcook [at] wocumc.org, 614-222-0602