Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: Refugees

2/7/2017

Dear Friends,

During the past several days, much has been written and said about the impact of the recent executive order on immigration and refugees. Though responses to the order range from outrage to support to everything in between – most Christ-followers agree on several points.

  • We are deeply concerned about how the complex matters related to refugees and immigration affect lives and families.
  • We serve a Savior who calls us to action that includes feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting those in prison. (Matthew 25: 31-48)
  • We are grieved when refugee families are separated and displaced.
  • We have experienced significant levels of fear and grief as a result of 9/11 and other actions of extremists.
  • We desire to have safe vetting processes for immigration.

So, how do we reach out and make life better for our brothers and sisters fleeing their countries because of war, famine and fear? One way is to care for them directly. I am grateful that our denomination has had feet on the ground in ministry with refugees for more than 75 years through our United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) which works closely with our partner Church World Service. Visit the UMCOR web-site www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Programs/Refugees to see ways that you can be in ministry with refugees.

Also, our North Alabama Advocacy Team, led by chair Rev. Russell Hestley and Director of Mission and Advocacy Rev. Matt Lacey, has prepared a packet of resources located on the Conference web-site for churches looking for ways to be involved in serving the needs of refugees. The Advocacy Team created this refugee packet in response to a resolution passed by the 2016 Annual Conference.

Whatever your personal reaction to the executive order, I invite you to join me in some of the following action steps.

  • Pray daily for refugees;
  • Let Congress know what you discern is a God-honoring response by our nation to the refugee crisis;
  • Take action through UMCOR or similar groups to be in ministry with refugees;
  • Build a relationship with a refugee.

I close this blog with a prayer that has emerged in my heart and spirit in response to the current refugee situation. As always it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.

Prayer:

God of every nation and people,

We recognize you created all persons in your image.  Most of us live in a place and time far removed from the reality of war, famine and persecution. Yet, if born in different circumstances, we could have found ourselves in the situations of these our refugee brothers and sisters.  We see you, the One who loves us all, in the face of the refugee.  Move us to act in ways that improve the lives of these refugees across the world.

God, do not let our differences overshadow our commonalities. Do not let us treat fellow citizens with whom we disagree as our enemies. Do not let us forget the humanity of others as we deal with our fears.  Make us peace-makers even as we work to transform the world in which we live. Make us people of truth, goodness, love, grace, courage, compassion, honor, mercy, wisdom and justice whose actions align with you and your teachings.  We commit ourselves anew to your values.  We want to live as your compassionate and faithful disciples, now and always.  Amen and Amen.
 

Blessings,
Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
North Alabama Conference


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