Welcoming the Stranger: Difficult and Necessary

Welcoming the Stranger: Difficult and Necessary  

“The arrival in Europe of massive numbers of Middle Eastern refugees is causing crises for humanitarian organizations and churches as well as for governments,” writes the head of the United Methodist Church’s global missions agency. “United Methodists are wondering and asking…how The United Methodist Church in Europe and at the international level is responding to the migration crisis.”

Thomas Kemper, UMC Global Ministries General Secretary offers detailed answers to that question in a letter posted on the agency’s Website and e-mailed to leaders across the denomination. He covers the international scope of the crisis, identifies prayer needs, cites local responses (in which “very small United Methodist communities are joining neighbors to meet immediate needs for food, water, and clothing,”) and reports on UMCOR’s relief efforts. He also calls for “enlarging the welcome” to include expanded U.S. efforts to resettle many of the refugees fleeing horrific violence and devastation of their homes and communities.” He also addresses the concern for likely backlash to U.S. mass immigration and resettlement efforts.

“Christians know our responsibility,” Kemper writes, citing Jesus expectations “of those whose lives reflect the grace and love of God: Welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:35b).”But that can be “a tough mandate, difficult and risky, demanding of sober realism,” he admits, “and also full of potential for new insights and understandings about human and cultural relations.”

Learn more and share Kemper’s letter with your congregation.

Syria: Help to Uplift the UprootedAlso, read “German bishop on migrants: ‘Meet people, not problems,’” in which UM Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany shares how churches in her region are proving that “doing many little things together can make a big difference in ministry with Syrian refugees.”

Finally, learn more about the UMC’s official views on immigration, as stated in its Social Principles and in General Conference’s calls for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. And find resources and ideas on ways you can get involved.