Title: ELCA, Episcopal Presiding Bishops Urge Advocacy in Immigration Policy ELCA NEWS SERVICE
January 31, 2008
ELCA, Episcopal Presiding Bishops Urge Advocacy in Immigration Policy 08-006-JB
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The presiding bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church called for members of their churches "to advocate for just national policies on resettlement and migration." The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, and the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, made the comment in joint statement released Jan. 30 at a gathering here with refugees, staff and friends of Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries (IRIM).
The gathering was at the Episcopal Church of the Atonement. Jefferts Schori is here in advance of the Feb. 2 consecration of the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The ELCA, based here, and the Episcopal Church, based in New York, are full communion partner churches. The churches are affiliated with IRIM through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service or Episcopal Migration Ministries.
In their statement, the presiding bishops noted that there are 33 million people worldwide who are refugees. They wrote: "The current migration climate in this country is often focused on exclusion and restriction. As people formed by a generous and embracing gospel, we must challenge our leaders to avoid cultivating an unwarranted atmosphere of fear. We must not encourage building walls or denying basic human rights to those who clamor for security and justice. Our perspective should be one of abundance, for we are blessed with abundance and guided by the mandate to love all as part of God's good creation."
Two refugees, served by IRIM, told their personal stories to the presiding bishops. One refugee, Baraka Kubaya, came to the United States through Egypt, after he and his wife were forced to leave their home in Sudan. Sponsored by St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Park Ridge, Ill., Kubaya and his wife resettled here in 2006 with IRIM's help.
"That day was like a new page in my life," he said. "For the first time in my life, I felt secure. IRIM prepared everything for us. They deserve good credit for the work they are doing here."
"Most of us in this country, if we're willing to go back far enough or even just a few years, have stories (in our histories) of oppression, of hunger, of warfare, of not knowing what it is to live in peace with justice," Jefferts Schori said. "We are called to transform this world into something that looks more like what God has in mind for all of us."
Hanson agreed, saying that every person has immigration stories in their histories. "I'm convinced this culture would be in a very different place if we would stop, as privileged people, and simply hear the stories of refugees."
IRIM represents all organizations and people who are living out their faith by heeding the Scriptures, Hanson said. Immigration stories "drive us back to the biblical narrative," he said.
"It's always bewildering for me that people of faith become so ardently anti-immigrant and anti-refugee because they are becoming biblically illiterate about their own narrative. God expects -- requires -- God's people to reflect that covenantal relationship in the extension of justice to the sojourner, the refugee among us," Hanson said.
Founded in 1982, IRIM provides support and services for 2,500 people annually who have resettled in the Chicago area. It has served people from 64 countries, said Gregory J. Wangerin, executive director.
Information about Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries is at http://www.irim.org/ on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com http://www.elca.org/news ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog