This past week, President Donald Trump issued executive actions barring certain classes of individuals from entry into the United States. These actions were in keeping with his campaign promises to address what he believes is a broken immigration system and included actions that not only addressed illegal immigration but those who have been accorded legal status to enter our country. President Trump’s actions have been challenged in the courts, and it’s safe to say at this time that there is much uncertainty about what is to come.
As we watch the news and think about what is being done, it is important to recognize that people of faith have a special relationship with the alien and the immigrant. The earliest laws of Judaism affirm that followers of Yahweh should always remember their own history as immigrants. Jesus’ own family were immigrants to Egypt in the face of persecution by Herod. The scriptures are clear that those who walk in the way of Jesus are called to offer hospitality and shelter to those who are travelers, strangers, and aliens.
Our own United Methodist church is clear that we believe that our Christian faith calls us to welcome immigrants with open arms. In a resolution adopted by the United Methodist General Conference in Portland this past May, we as a denomination affirm that:
The United Methodist Church understands that at the center of Christian faithfulness to Scripture is the call we have been given to welcome and love the sojourner. We call upon all United Methodist churches to welcome newly arriving migrants in their communities, to love them as we do ourselves, to treat them as one of our native-born, to see them in the presence of the incarnated Jesus, and to show hospitality to the migrants in our midst, believing that through their presence we are receiving the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (UM Book of Resolutions #3281)
The resolution likewise calls United Methodist congregations to the following actions:
- advocate for legislation that will uphold the civil and human rights of all migrants in the United States and will provide an opportunity to attain legal status for all undocumented migrants currently in the United States, as well as for those arriving in the future;
- denounce and oppose the rise of xenophobic, racist, and violent reactions against migrants in the United States, and support all efforts to build relationships among people, instead of building walls among diverse ethnicities and cultures;
- welcome newly arriving immigrants into our congregations;
- oppose the building of a wall between the United States and Mexico, which communities on both sides of the border are in opposition to;
- work with civic and legal organizations to support migrant communities affected by harsh immigration laws and over-reaching national security measures;
and many more actions designed to affirm our welcome and embrace of immigrants.
As United Methodist pastors appointed to serve the City Road Chapel congregation we want to affirm the official positions of our denomination. We are committed to being a place of welcome for all persons . . . including migrants to our country. While we want to respect the diversity of belief and are open to respectful conversation, we wish to state clearly that we will support and advocate for immigrants, and will actively be engaged in the work of “…building bridges with migrants in their local communities, learning from them, celebrating their presence in the United States, and recognizing and appreciating the contributions in all areas of life that migrants bring.” (Book of Resolutions #3281).
-Rev. Jay Voorhees
-Rev. Emily Reeves Grammer