A Bishop’s Letter on ImmigrationPosted: December 15, 2014
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:
- Pray for the immigrants in our community, particularly those who have recently entered the United States under difficult circumstances.
- 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.
- 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.”