Archive for Loving our neighbor

New Safe Sanctuary Policy Approved!

A new Safe Sanctuary Policy was approved by our Leadership Circle on April 2, 2017.  What a wonderful way to express our faith in Jesus Christ!  Here is the entire document:

Scriptural Context:

Exodus 22:21
“You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:33-34
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 10:17-19
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Isaiah 1:17
“… learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

Matthew 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Luke 10:25-28
“Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.””

1 Corinthians 12:26
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”

Hebrews 13:2
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Historical & Current Factors:

“Human migration is as old as human history. Individuals, families, tribes, and nations have been on the move since the days of Abraham and Sarah and before. Throughout the centuries, political and economic factors, including wars; health and environmental challenges; and racism, xenophobia, and religious discrimination have at times uprooted people and at others lured them to new venues across deserts, rivers, continents, oceans, and national and ethnic boundaries.” umc.org/what-we-believe

“All of us are called to love our neighbor—all our neighbors. Generations of immigrants have made this country great with their ideas, hard work, resilience, and traditions. We must resist the inclination to allow grief and despair to turn us against one another, or to blame an entire community for the actions of a few individuals.” (Testimony by Bishop Minerva Carcaño before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives, April 19, 2016.)

In 1942, over 127,000 United States citizens of Japanese ancestry were relocated to internment camps because of the fear that they would act as spies or saboteurs for the Japanese government.

United Methodist pastor Rev. Mert M. Lampson of the Watsonville Methodist Church, along with other local clergy and individuals, vehemently opposed the anti-Japanese hysteria in a public way. In letters to the Register-Pajaronian Newspaper printed in March, 1943, they resolved to block a proposed order designed to keep the Japanese for an extended period in the camps. Over their objection, the order ultimately was enacted, but their strong support of the Japanese was notable. (“Liberty Lost … Lessons in Loyalty,” April 27, 2002 Re-enactment of the 1942 evacuation, Commemorative Program.)

“The courage to speak out for civil rights and against racial intolerance by [these clergy and others] is especially remarkable in view of the fact that American battle casualties were mounting many losses from central coast towns.” (“Liberty Lost … Lessons in Loyalty,” ibid.)

Immigrants have built this country and continue to sustain it, working for the benefit of us all –whether by picking our crops, putting food on our tables, building our roads and homes, tending to the needs of our children and elderly parents, and inspiring our congregations.

However, every day, many of our immigrant brothers and sisters are deported. Children live in constant fear that at the end of the school day, they will find that their parents have been deported. Immigrants are subject to arbitrary detention, and denied due process.

It is critical that as people of faith, we work toward community wholeness. We hold true that God loves the immigrant in our church and community, and we care deeply for each and every child of God, no matter where they are from or what language they speak.

Today, we reaffirm that as United Methodists, we believe in “Open Minds, Open Hearts, and Open Doors.”

The United Methodist Church believes that “migrants should be given due process and access to adequate legal representation. Due to these raids and the ensuing detentions and deportations that follow them, families have been ripped apart and the migrant community has been forced to live in a constant state of fear.” (Book of Resolutions, ¶ 3281 “Welcoming the Migrant to the United States”)

Resolution:

We, the Watsonville First United Methodist Church hereby resolve to:

1. Openly declare our church a Safe Sanctuary, where immigrants, refugees, and sojourners, including children, youth, and the elderly, may experience the abiding love of God through Jesus Christ, and fellowship within our community of faith.

2. Affirm the actions of United Methodist Bishop Rev. Minerva Carcaño in expressing her deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ in support of all immigrants, her bold leadership both here and around the world, and her vision for our California-Nevada Annual Conference to be welcoming to all people.

3. Continue our work with other member organizations, leaders and community groups to actively support COPA’s (Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action,) “Know Your Rights, Know Your Neighbor,” immigration campaign, including implementing its 3 key components: workshops in immigrant parishes, civic academies, and research actions with public officials.

4. Pledge to conduct our ministry of the gospel in supportive ways that encourage our members, visitors, friends, neighbors, other churches and community leaders and other organizations and entities, to promote immigration policies and procedures that are humane, fair, and based on the equal worth of all people, regardless of their countries of origin.

5. Be a church where immigrants, refugees, and sojourners who are in our community may find a spiritual home, and receive welcome, radical hospitality, peace, reconciliation, and the healing presence of the Holy Spirit.

6. Offer to support immigrants to the best of our ability as we work to support their integration and settlement into new, safe communities, and provide learning of and leading to local resources that provide help, legal aid, and advocacy for their needs and issues.

7. Pursue peace on earth through justice-making efforts to end suffering here, and throughout the world, and help stabilize local communities whose residents experience pressure to leave their homeland.

8. Continue to provide compassion for and solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.

9. Support immigrant rights to gainful employment, social and political freedom, cultural affirmation, legal rights and equal protection under the law, and the exercise of human rights, so people do not become so desperate that they abandon their loved ones, their culture, and all that is familiar to them, in search of a better, safer life.

10. Support the rights of all LGBTQI immigrants and others in all our policies and programs, and help end discriminatory practices, beliefs and prejudices against them.

11. Welcome the immigrant, the newcomer, and recognize, embrace, and affirm all people, regardless of where they come from, as members of the family of God.

12. Affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, healthcare, education, and freedom from social discrimination.

13. Urge all our brothers and sisters to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to ensure justice for all as sacred children of God in Jesus Christ.

14. Affirm statements by Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe of the General Board of Church & Society of the United Methodist Church, umc-gbcs.org on February 17, 2017, as follows:

a. To the United States government: we call upon you to immediately cease arrests, detainment, and deportations of undocumented immigrants, including children, solely based upon their immigration status until a fair and comprehensive immigration reform is passed.

b. To people of faith: We affirm that all are created in the image of God and we are called to welcome immigrants into our congregations, provide care for those facing separation from their families, and advocate for policies that uphold the civil and human rights of all migrants.

c. To all who live in fear of detention, deportation, or separation from your family and community: you are valuable, deserving of opportunity, your contributions to society are important, and we will stand with you to advocate for justice.

15. And acknowledge the truth of this statement in our United Methodist Book of Resolutions: “To refuse to welcome migrants to this country – and to stand by in silence while families are separated, individual freedoms are ignored, and the migrant community in the United States is demonized by members of Congress and the media – is complicity to sin.” (¶ 3281 “Welcoming the Migrant to the United States.”)

Our Prayer:

Blessed are You, Lord Jesus Christ.
You crossed every border
between Divinity and humanity
to make your home with us.
Help us to welcome you in newcomers,
migrants and refugees.
Blessed are You, God of all nations.
You bless our land richly
with goods of creation
and with people made in your image.
Help us to be good stewards and peacemakers,
who live as your children.
Blessed are You, Holy Spirit.
You work in the hearts of all
to bring about harmony and goodwill.
Strengthen us to welcome those
from other lands, cultures, religions,
that we may live in human solidarity
and in hope.
God of all people, grant us vision
to see your presence in our midst,
especially in our immigrant sisters and brothers.
Give us courage to open the door to our
neighbors
and grace to build a society of justice.
Amen.

(Source: Pax International Christi, a Catholic peace movement)