“…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…” Matthew 25:35
Immigration policy has become one of the most politically polarizing issues of the day, resulting in potentially divisive perspectives within and around the church. Regardless of one’s perspective, fair and humane implementation of current law is essential.
Last week’s raid by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at Midwest Precast Concrete in Mount Pleasant is a reminder that the social fabric of local communities where immigrants work are at risk. Recent escalation of immigration detention services across the country heightens the fear and heartache to the families of working immigrants, contributing to mistrust and division in our communities.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to welcome the stranger and to love our neighbor. At a time when too many neighbors live in fear, we are compelled to advocate for fair immigration policy, to insist on humane treatment of those caught up in a dysfunctional system, and to provide relief, when possible, to the individuals and families most directly impacted by enforcement.
In Mount Pleasant, where there is no ELCA congregation, First Presbyterian Church is taking the lead on behalf of the broader faith community to assist with immediate and anticipated needs, from legal assistance to continuing access to food and housing. We have contributed to that effort through the Southeastern Iowa Synod Bishop’s Emergency Fund. We will continue to monitor the situation. Any gifts sent to our office intended for additional local support in this instance will be forwarded to First Presbyterian or to other potential partners able to meet local needs.
Please join me in praying for the families whose lives have been disrupted, for the Mount Pleasant community, and for those who advocate for, and effect constructive immigration policy reform.
And in every instance where division exists within our own communities of faith, strive to reflect the reconciling power of God’s love, bearing one another’s burdens and working consistently for the common good.
Bishop Michael Burk