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UMCSC Hispanic/Latino Task Force condemns immigration ban

UMCSC Hispanic/Latino Task Force condemns immigration ban
At Thurgood Marshall Baltimore Washington International Airport, published reports state that 2,000 people gathered outside the international arrivals area to rally against the president’s executive order banning refugees. Photo by Erik Alsgarrd, Baltimore-Washington Conference.

Bishop urges all to love strangers like Jesus, engage in civil discussion

By Jessica Brodie

While the legalities of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban remain unclear, the Hispanic/Latino Task Force of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church is calling on Christians to condemn the ban and advocate for immigrants and refugees.

The president issued an executive order to ban people from seven majority Muslim countries. As of press time, the ban had been stopped Feb. 10 with legal action by a federal appeals court.

On Feb. 2, the conference’s Hispanic/Latino Task Force issued a statement noting that America, a nation of immigrants, “should not take up its welcome mat and close its doors to those seeking refuge and safety.”

“As Christians, we welcome immigrants and refugees from all over the world, regardless of national origin, race, ethnicity or religion, as we daily seek to follow Christ’s example of radical hospitality,” the task force statement reads in part. “God’s grace, love and mercy does not envelop only those who are Christian, and neither should ours. We have an obligation to care for all people.”

As part of Christians’ baptismal promise to resist evil, injustice and oppression, the task force encourages people to provide real help for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants; engage in strong, coordinated advocacy on migration issues and on behalf of actions that overcome poverty, war and other causes leading to the displacement and marginalization of people; and organize through institutional channels and prepare educational resources for the achievement of these objectives.

South Carolina Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston also has issued a statement on the immigration ban, citing Jesus’s words in Matthew 25:27-40 regarding inviting in the stranger: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.”

Holston said the rapid changes in immigration policies and the many competing voices can make it difficult to sort through all the information.

“As Christians in the midst of chaotic times, we are called to remember who we are and whose we are, and to be witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ for the world,” Holston said. “To be faithful in our witness to Jesus Christ, we are called to love the strangers in our midst as if they were Jesus. This is our calling and our mission—even when it feels risky and frightening to do so.”

He called on United Methodists to take the time to “engage in civil, thoughtful and respectful discussion with those who share our opinions and with those with whom we disagree.”

Several United Methodist groups have applauded a halt to the president’s travel ban, including Church World Service, of which the UMC is a member. As of press time, United Methodist-related Duke and Emory universities have joined a legal challenge to the president’s immigration restrictions. However, many others are in strong support of a temporary ban, which they said would help develop a better way to vet refuges without compromising safety.

 

Hispanic/Latino Task Force statement condemning immigration ban

The Hispanic/Latino Task Force of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church condemns President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugee resettlement. As Christians, we welcome immigrants and refugees from all over the world, regardless of national origin, race, ethnicity or religion, as we daily seek to follow Christ’s example of radical hospitality.

The United Methodist Church’s 2016 Book of Resolutions (Para. 165.6028) states: “People beyond the Christian community deserve no less hospitality than Christians extend to themselves.” God’s grace, love and mercy does not envelop only those who are Christian, and neither should ours. We have an obligation to care for all people. Our country, which consists of immigrants from around the world, should not take up its welcome mat and close its doors to those seeking refuge and safety.

Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Therefore, what is our response to injustice?

The Book of Resolutions (Para. 165.6028) suggests that the Christian Church should respond in the following ways to the injustice facing refugees and immigrants:

  • Provide real help for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants;
  • Engage in strong, coordinated advocacy on migration issues and on behalf of actions that overcome poverty, war and other causes leading to the displacement and marginalization of people; and
  • Organize through institutional channels and prepare educational resources for the achievement of these objectives.

As asked of each United Methodist in baptism: “Will you resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”

Our prayer is that your response is the same today as it was on the day of your baptism: “I will.”

We encourage you to reach out through such organizations as Lutheran Services Carolinas, where you can learn how your church can assist refugees who are resettling, co-sponsor and volunteer your support for refugees, and gain a greater understanding of the plight of refugees, including those from Syria.

May we all continue to live into our baptismal covenants as we seek to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.

 

Bishop Holston’s statement on immigration ban: Make a difference

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.’”—Matthew 25:37-40

The pace of change in our society has perhaps never been more rapid than it is today. The recent changes in United States immigration policies have resulted in stories of pain and suffering for families in our nation and around the world. With these rapid changes and the many competing voices speaking about the changes, it can be difficult to sort through all the information coming our way.

As Christians in the midst of chaotic times, we are called to remember who we are and whose we are, and to be witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ for the world. To be faithful in our witness to Jesus Christ, we are called to love the strangers in our midst as if they were Jesus. This is our calling and our mission—even when it feels risky and frightening to do so.

While we recognize that people of faith have different opinions about national policy, I pray that we will take the time to engage in civil, thoughtful, and respectful discussion with those who share our opinions and with those with whom we disagree. It is my hope that in this time of rapid change and an overwhelming deluge of information that we as United Methodists will focus on how we extend the love of Jesus Christ into the world as we act with compassion, advocate for the vulnerable, and work persistently for justice.

Recently, I had the privilege to speak at High Point University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. I concluded my words with this prayer and I commend them to you:

“I pray that, as we leave here, we would take who we are and go out into this world and be who God needs for us to be. Some will find it very comfortable to find those places, and some will be challenged. But if you take one step that will be the difference in moving toward a place you should be, and getting up from the place where you once were. When you leave this place, be the difference makers in the world.” Grace and peace.

—Jonathan Holston, Resident Bishop, South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church

 

1 Comment

  • “Will you resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”
    I don’t know why all the protesting and whining, this is exactly what our country is doing for us. I bet all the people that are protesting, Christians and non Christians, legal and non legal, all have locks on their doors and windows, and if they hear a knock I bet even they ask who is there before letting them in, I might be wrong but I think everyone is going to get a background check before they get into heaven.

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