Message from Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett and Bishop Paul Leeland

12/7/2015

To: Our United Methodist Sisters and Brothers in the State of Alabama
   
From:  Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett
  Bishop Paul Leeland


“ . . . for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me . . .  ”  Matthew 25:35

As United Methodist Bishops assigned to Alabama, we offer a pastoral response to the destructive consequences resulting from the war in Syria and the rise of ISIS.  Our hearts break over the violent terrorist attacks around the world and with the awareness of the increasing number of vulnerable families, women, and children, who are fleeing Syria in search of safety.  We recognize that many of those seeking freedom are Syrian Christians. As we approach Christmas, we remember that the Gospel of Matthew, likely written in Syria, tells the story of the Holy Family who flee the violence of their own home.

We take seriously the need to balance hospitality and security. We call upon our churches to welcome our brothers and sisters of all faiths.  We also recognize the necessity of our government agencies doing thorough security screenings in re-settling refugees in the United States.  We invite our communities to join our Christian sisters and brothers in prayer and advocacy on behalf of this growing international crisis.

Let us pray:

  • For an end to the conflict in Syria and the surrounding area.
     
  • For those seeking safety in the surrounding areas of Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Europe, and the United States.
     
  • For a lasting peace which will enable refugees to return home in safety.
     
  • That those who serve our country by assisting refugees in passing through our security processes will be strengthened with wisdom and understanding.
     
  • That our communities will continue to welcome those in desperate need.
     
  • That refugees will truly find “sanctuary” among the many sanctuaries where we gather to worship God.
     
  • That our nation’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis may model moral leadership before the nations of the world.
     

Rev. Jack Amick, Assistant General Secretary for International Disaster Response, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), has noted that since its founding 75 years ago, UMCOR provides assistance to all.  He said, “The stories we hear about Christian communities being persecuted breaks our hearts.  But, as Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan reminds us, all human suffering should break our hearts such that we take action regardless of human divisions and labels of race, creed, religion.”

As advocates and partners addressing this refugee crisis, we give thanks for the work UMCOR is doing, in providing space heaters, mattresses, blankets, soap, diapers, and sanitary pads as a first response to basic human need.  We also trust that our local churches, over the coming years, will partner with ecumenical relief organizations in resettling displaced families and welcoming them, in the name of Jesus, into redemptive communities of peace, safety and hope.


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