“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 19:34 (NIV)
“…I was a stranger and you did not invite me in…Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” -Matthew 25:43,45 (NIV)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Nursing children taken away from their mothers? People warehoused in “cages?” This is unthinkable, unconscionable and unacceptable. The news is full of pictures and stories of children being separated from their parents since the zero-tolerance enforcement policy was enacted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Hundreds of children have been removed, regardless of their age. This practice compounds the trauma of families fleeing pervasive and deadly violence in their home countries. I am heartbroken. I know you are too.
The Bible has much to say about immigrants and immigration. I invite you to explore what the Bible says, because as United Methodists, it is our primary lens of interpretation and guides how we live and respond to emerging realities. You may want to note that what the Bible has to say does not begin in the 13th chapter of Romans. Going back to the 1908 Methodist Social Creed, we have stood for “the rights and dignity of all persons.” Our Social Principles and Resolutions, voted on by General Conference delegates, have long advocated for just and compassionate policies. Guided by the Bible and our Social Principles, United Methodists are invited to care about “the stranger in our midst.” We believe in keeping families together. We believe in protecting those who are victims of violence in their homes and communities.
- 2016 Book of Discipline, ¶ 162.H … “We oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or that include detention of families with children, and we call on local churches to be in ministry with immigrant families.” Social Principles ¶162.H
- 2016 Book of Discipline, ¶ 162.F… “We affirm the right of women to live free from violence and abuse and urge governments to enact policies that protect women against all forms of violence and discrimination in any sector of society.” Social Principles ¶162.F
- 2016 Book of Resolutions #3281 – Welcoming the Migrant to the US
- 2016 Book of Resolutions #6028 – Global Migration and the Quest for Justice
The Department of Justice, under the direction of Jeff Sessions, has made two announcements in the last month that are at odds with our shared United Methodist values.
- Separating children from their parents at any port of entry into the United States. This is a shift in enforcement practices of past administrations. This practice is also in direct opposition to our Social Principles, ¶162.H.
- Overturning asylum protections for victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. This policy is a dramatic shift from past administrations and will have severe repercussions for those fleeing extreme violence. As a denomination, we advocate for protection against all forms of violence. Social Principles ¶162.F
As your bishop, I am inviting you to pray and act as fellow followers of Jesus, who with his parents, crossed country borders to flee violence and death threats when he was a baby. This link will direct you to a number of ways you might choose to act. You may have thought of other ways to engage in the face of this current tragic crisis. You and I can make a huge difference in the name of Jesus. Thank you for all the ways you bring healing and hope to so many on a daily basis. I am,
Yours in Christ,
+Gregory V. Palmer
A Prayer: O God of the sojourner and immigrant, hear our plea for the fearful, displaced and dispossessed. Embolden us to act with courage, faith and compassion. We pray in the name of Jesus who has lived the narrative dislocation. AMEN.
For more information or questions, please go to West Ohio’s Immigration page and contact:
Rev. Scott Hicks, Immigration Attorney
West Ohio Immigration Chair
hickslawoffice [at] gmail.com
Rebecca L. Hug, Community Engagement Coordinator
rhug [at] wocumc.org
614.844.6200 ext. 313