A Bishop’s Letter on Immigration


The humanitarian crisis that unfolded this summer on our southern border, with the arrival of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children, brought to our attention the plight of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the globe. These children have been relocated with family members across the United States, and they may even be your neighbors, Sunday School students or the classmates of your children.

Why are immigration issues important to us as United Methodists here in middle and west Tennessee and western Kentucky? Both emerging population trends from the Census data and our Social Principles (¶162H) lead us to care about these issues.

According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, there are now over 1,000 children in the state of Tennessee placed with family member sponsors after entering the United States unaccompanied. Many of these children have escaped dangerous circumstances in their home countries in Central America. After fleeing from violence and surviving the treacherous journey across the U.S. border, they now face the difficulties of our current immigration system.

Throughout scripture, we witness a clear command to love our immigrant neighbors:

  • “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34 ESV)
  • “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)
  • “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17 NIV)
  • “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 CEB)

Our mission in the Nashville Episcopal Area is to offer Christ to a hurting world, one neighborhood at a time. As many of our local communities continue to grow and change, it is essential that we extend hospitality to the neighbors in our midst. As United Methodists, we have a holy responsibility to “recognize, embrace, and affirm” all persons.

In response to recent events, I ask that each of you respond in the following ways:

  1. Pray for the immigrants in our community, particularly those who have recently entered the United States under difficult circumstances.
  2. Support efforts to provide these families with hope, hospitality, and basic needs. Become involved with an organization such as Tennessee Justice for our Neighbors, which helps provide free and affordable legal services for immigrants in our community.
  3. Advocate for those who may not have a voice of their own. Contact your elected officials in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

Let us remain faithful in prayer and dedicated in action for the families and children impacted by our broken immigration system.

We remain hopeful for justice in the name of Jesus Christ, our great source of hope.

In Christ’s Love,

Bishop William McAlilly
Nashville Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church


The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state:

“We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, healthcare, education, and freedom from social discrimination. We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all.”

8 Comments on “A Bishop’s Letter on Immigration”

  1. Goyo De la Cruz says:

    Dear Bishop,
    Thank you for your sensitivity towards immigrants who were expelled by the violence and poverty in their original countries. Also I appreciate that you are promoting the Consultation Meeting on Hispanic Ministries in Memphis, planned for January 17th.
    May God continue to bless in his work and his pastoral vision.

  2. Luz Campos says:

    Dear Bishop,

    Thank you for your words. As you said, many immigrant children are here now because they are fleeing the violence, poverty, and hunger in their countries. Thank you for opening the doors; thank you for opening the arms; thank you for opening your hearts to this community, especially to children.
    Thank you for your words. With your words you invite us to see the face of Christ in the face of each of them.

  3. sing2preach says:

    Reblogged this on sing2preach and commented:
    Please join me in supporting our Bishop in treating our neighbors, no matter their status, as Jesus and our Scripture commands.

  4. Carlos Uroza says:

    Thank you for your words. As we encourage people to advocate for the immigrant community, I also think that your message must be heard by those who are immigrants in our conference. Your words can be encouraging those who are immigrants. A very high percent of our Hispanic/Latino community do not speak English, therefore, I wonder if the TN conference can offer a translated document that we can share in our Hispanic/Latino ministries.
    Thank you.

  5. Steve Tippens says:

    Thank you, brother. It’s encouraging to hear such words from our bishop on an issue addressed so uncompromisingly by Scripture, yet having such a divisive effect, even within the Christian community.

  6. LeNoir H. Culbertson says:

    I appreciate your leadership in this area! Most all of our families were “immigrants” at some point of history and I am thankful for a country that took seriously “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
    LeNoir H. Culbertson

  7. Nancy Hardin says:

    If you, or your church, are concerned about both the physical and spiritual welfare of our hispanic brothers and sisters in the Memphis Conference, please join us for a workshop at
    Iglesia Metodista Unida “El Redentor”
    2969 S. Mendenhall Rd, Memphis, TN 38115
    Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 9:00a.m. – 4:00 p.m.