A statement from the director of Episcopal Migration Ministries

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January 25, 2017


[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release]

A Statement from the Director, Episcopal Migration Ministries

The Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson

It is being widely reported that soon the President will issue an Executive Order that suspends the U.S. refugee resettlement program for a significant time, severely reduces the number of refugees who are welcomed into the United States this year, and prohibits from resettlement those who are fleeing for their lives from the violence in several specific countries. This decision will mean that many of those who are the most vulnerable, the most at risk of further violence, the least likely to be able to fend for themselves, are now to be left without hope. Such a position does not reflect who we are as a nation, or as a people of faith.

This action will be taken, we are told, to make us safe. Yet, isolating ourselves from the world does not make us safer; it only isolates us. Being afraid of those who differ from us does not make us wise, or even prudent; it only traps us in an echo chamber of suspicion and anger, and stops us cold from loving as Christ loved. Judging an entire culture or a religion or a nation by the actions of extremists within it does not make us a strong leader in the world; it destroys our ability to tap into the strength of the greater whole, it causes others to judge us, and – like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 who prayed, “God, I thank thee that I am not as others are” – it stains our soul with a self-righteousness that grieves the heart of God.

America cannot solve the violence in other lands on this particular day, nor even in the days that will follow immediately. But, we can act morally and show leadership. We can save lives – today, tomorrow, and the day after that. We can offer a place of safety, and a second chance at life to those who so desperately need it.

For me, as a Christian, I cannot conquer the evil in this world. But, as a Christian, I know that I do not have to. Jesus has already won that battle for me. I am called simply to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. I can see the image of God in “the other,” and give thanks for it.

Episcopal Migration Ministries is going to continue to minister to those who have fled their homes because of persecution, violence, or war. Through our network of affiliates across this country, and with the help of the wider Episcopal Church, we will welcome these men, women, and children who did not choose to become refugees. In partnership with the other resettlement agencies, we will work with our government and local communities to provide a place of welcome.

We can make a difference in these days. We can save lives. We can answer the cry of the persecuted, and the call of God.

“…for I was a stranger and you welcomed me….” (Matt 25:35)