As I mentioned in a recent sermon, it has been a discouraging time as regards our nation’s treatment of immigrants and refugees. The one bright spot has been the extraordinary levels of protest that the President’s recent executive order has stirred. Rev. Janet Craswell and I have begun conversations with American University about how we can be supportive of their international students, and we have collected information on some of the implications of being a sanctuary church. Many folks in our church family have expressed interest in exploring how our church can respond to the challenges our country is facing around immigration.
In thinking about ways to frame this issue, I was inspired by the words of our Baltimore Washington Conference Bishop, Rev. LaTrelle Easterling:
“’I assure you that when you have done it to one of the least of these … you have done it for me.’” - Matthew 25:40
“As United Methodists we must live the gospel we proclaim. For such a time as this we must preach the courage of our Wesleyan convictions, teach a theology that welcomes the stranger, and advocate a witness that stands with the marginalized and oppressed... Now is the time for us to stand on the side of justice. In the words of Dr. King, 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.' Now is the time for us to stand on holy ground.” – excerpted from Bishop LaTrelle Easterling’s Statement on Jan. 31, 2017
Justice for our Neighbors is a United Methodist immigration ministry. There are JFON clinics at: Salem UMC in Baltimore, Emory UMC/Emory Beacon of Light in Northwest DC, First UMC of Hyattsville, and Epworth UMC in Gaithersburg.
The Baltimore Washington Conference has developed a resource list to help leaders and congregations discover how to find and stand on holy ground instead of siding with one party or another. Sometimes the line between faithfulness and politics can be difficult to find. But as Jesus’ followers, let’s not allow our fear of “being political” to prevent us from acting out of our grounding in the Great Commandment and Matthew 25. One way of staying on solid ground is to not participate in name-calling or blaming, but to speak to and act on the issue at hand that is not in line with the values and life example of Jesus.
Let’s be love and light together even though we may not agree on specific political parties, agendas and tactics. As John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement said: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”
Our Metropolitan Church family will be exploring where God is calling us as a community of faith to engage in the many dimensions of immigration at a meeting on Sunday, February 19, at 1pm in the Great Hall at Metropolitan Memorial to discern how we live out our church’s vision of Extending radical hospitality, transforming lives, and pursuing justice in the context of immigration. A light lunch will be provided. An RSVP (to firstname.lastname@example.org) would be helpful for planning purposes, but is not mandatory.
Please be thinking about some ways that you think we could be involved as a community of faith, and together we will discern where it is we think that God is calling us to stand up for justice in these challenging times. I welcome your thoughts on this at any time and you can reach me at email@example.com.