Resources for Faithfully Standing with the Vulnerable
“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
The resource list that follows seeks 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” 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.”
For congregations who don’t understand why the church has issued a pro-immigrant/refugee statement:
- What The United Methodist Church believes about immigrants.
- Take the 40 Days of Scripture and Prayer Challenge. The I Was a Stranger website contains a scripture-based video (with Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, etc.) and 40 Days of Scripture and Prayer Challenge resources to help individuals and congregations “seek God’s’ heart through prayer and reading one Bible passage a day related to God’s heart for immigrants.”
- Tips for leaders who need healing and peace to rebuild community in a polarized political climate.
- Video: What does the Bible say about helping refugees, migrants and foreigners? Fr. James Martin, SJ explains that it's pretty clear.
For congregations who want to organize themselves to engage:
- Learn more about immigration, including becoming an Immigrant Welcoming Community from the General Board of Church and Society.
- Give people a chance to opt-in to being a part of a movement. One way of doing this is through the Matthew 25 Movement Pledge which simply states: “I pledge to protect and defend the vulnerable in the name of Jesus.” This movement is a result of a gathering of Christian organizers from around the US in November 2016.
- Explore the resources from Faith Rooted Organizing (including a low quality training video).
- Get access to the free Matthew 25 Toolkit by taking the pledge at Sojourners. This six-page PDF includes the following topics:
- Why Immigrants Might Need Our Protection and Defense
- Defending and Building Local Safety Nets
- Using Local Safety Nets
- Emergency Support
- Allies (in sending and receiving cities)
- How to listen to God’s call to support immigrants… together
- Capitol Hill UMC is working with seven faith communities on Capitol Hill to house and care for a refugee family through the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
- The Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) is a partnership of faith-based organizations committed to enacting fair and humane immigration reform that reflects our mandate to welcome the stranger and treat all human beings with dignity and respect. Coalition members work together to advocate for just and equitable immigration policies, educate faith communities, and serve immigrant populations around the country.
- The American Immigration Council was established in 1987 and works to strengthen America by honoring our immigrant history and shaping how America thinks about and acts toward immigrants and immigration. Immigration impact data is also available online.
- Take action per your discernment.
For congregations who want to become a part of the sanctuary movement:
The Sanctuary Movement is an ecumenical effort to protect immigrant families who face workplace discrimination or unjust deportation. There are several sites that are dedicated to this.
- Read more about the sanctuary movement in The United Methodist Church.
- The Unitarian Universalist sanctuary movement website was quoted in the news article from UM Communications on the sanctuary movement. There is a very detailed 15-page Word document that explains what to do to become a Sanctuary congregation.
- Learn more about the national new sanctuary movement and resources. The site includes a map of local initiatives. There is also a newly forming coalition in the DMV.