From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Lifts Up Refugee Concerns

Date Fri, 15 Aug 2003 13:30:31 -0500


August 15, 2003

ELCA Assembly Lifts Up Refugee Concerns

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- The 2003 Churchwide Assembly of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Aug. 15 voted 875
to 63 to encourage the church at all levels to call on the United
States government to admit more refugees into the country and in
other ways to care for refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers.
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines
Center. There are about 2,100 people participating, including
1,031 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is
"Making Christ Known: For the Healing of the World."
     The assembly action encourages individuals, congregation and
synod councils, and the presiding bishop of the ELCA to:
     + Call on President George W. Bush "to increase
significantly the number of refugees admitted under Presidential
Determination, and to support an increase in the funding level in
fiscal year 2004 for the Migration and Refugee Assistance Fund."
     Security concerns following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks have had a negative impact on U.S. policies toward
refugees and asylum seekers.  For example, President Bush set the
fiscal year 2003 ceiling for refugee admissions at 70,000 people.
At current rates, however, fewer than 20,000 refugees actually
will be resettled in the United States this year.
     + Call on members of Congress to join the Bipartisan
Congressional Refugee Caucus and lift up the needs of refugees
     + Call on the government "to protect the civil liberties of
all people regardless of citizenship."
     + Call on Congress to pass the Unaccompanied Child
Protection Act of 2003 (S-1129), intended to provide counsel and
guardians for unaccompanied children so that they do not have to
navigate the judicial system alone.
     Other provisions in the assembly's action encourage
congregations to support Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
(LIRS), an inter-Lutheran advocate for displaced persons, and to
pray for and act on the needs of displaced persons; and to direct
the ELCA Division for Church in Society to work with LIRS "to
advocate for compassion and justice for asylum seekers, refugees
and unaccompanied children."
     "Refugees are not terrorists," voting member Kami Moghbeli,
ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod, told the assembly as he urged
passage of the measure.  Himself a former refugee from Iran,
Moghbeli spoke of the torture and trauma that many refugees who
are awaiting resettlement have suffered.  "These people, with all
the trauma, are locked up" and detained as they seek asylum, he
     The assembly's action, which was recommended by the assembly
memorials committee, also commended the ELCA's Metropolitan New
York, Slovak Zion, Southwestern Pennsylvania and South-Central
Wisconsin synods for bringing refugees concerns to the Churchwide
-- -- --
Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at
http://www.elca/org/assembly/03 on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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