This past Sunday in worship, I talked about the border crisis we’re experiencing with unaccompanied children. I read to the congregation the Pastoral Letter written by the Bishops of the Annual Conferences in Texas, sent from our Bishop Lowry, and wanted also to post it here for your reference. It is my prayer that we will all keep these children in our hearts, minds and prayers as we plan our faithful response to these children at our gate. (If you didn’t hear the “Who’s at the Gate?” sermon this past Sunday, here’s a link to it.)
To learn more about the ongoing crisis along our southern border, visit ctcumc.org/missionsupport-bordercrisis and/or see Bishop Mike Lowry’s July 11 blog post, A Christian Response to the Border Crisis. Click here if you’d like to have a PDF version of the letter to share or link on your individual social media pages.
In a preliminary response, we have set up a special fund titled “Border Relief,” with opportunities to give online (see illustrated instructions below!) or by mailing your check to the Church Office or placing it in the offering plate on Sundays (be sure to write Border Relief in the memo).
Login or click on Quick Give and make sure you select Border Relief from the dropdown menu.
A Pastoral Letter from Your Bishops
to the People of The United Methodist Church in Texas
July 17, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today a humanitarian crisis is unfolding on our southern border with the arrival of tens of thousands of unaccompaniedchildren. Many of you have communicated with us about your heartfelt desire to provide compassionate care for theunaccompanied children who are suffering in our midst. As bishops we have been conferencing with each other about how the people of The United Methodist Church might respond in a manner that is most faithful to the gospel.
We have also been in conversation with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), community leaders, andgovernment officials. Our colleague, Bishop Jim Dorff, and other leaders in the Rio Texas Conference have just returned fromthree days on the border assessing the situation and representing the gospel and the church and encouraging people in a Christ-like response.
Let us be guided by the Biblical witness of faith:
· Jesus said, “Let the little children to come to me for to such belong the kingdom of heaven.” (Luke 18:15-16)
· Jesus instructed us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe those in need, visit the sick and those imprisoned. Then he said, “When you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, youhave done it for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
· We are to extend hospitality to strangers. (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:12)
We do not understand all that these children have experienced in their home countries or in their arduous journey to our borders.We do know that their plight breaks the heart of God. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of the globalcommunity. Many come seeking to survive. They all need our compassion and care. At a time of concern about a strugglingeconomy and national security, it is easy to give in to fear and to let that fear, rather than God’s heart, shape our hearts and ourresponse. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” (II Tim. 1:7). As followers of Christ, we have the power and wisdom of God to care for these unaccompanied children.
As the Bishops of the United Methodist Conferences of Texas, we call on the people of The United Methodist Church to:
· Pray regularly for the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and healing of these children and families, wisdom forour government officials, and peace for the countries from which these children have come;
· Work with faith and community leadership to provide housing, life necessities, pastoral/spiritual care, and as stable anenvironment as possible for these children and families while their long-term status is being resolved;
· Be attentive to seeing Christ in the faces of these children;
· Be alert for specific opportunities to offer ministries of compassion and care, which we will share as needs emerge.
In the words of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, “Do all the good you can by all the means you can in all theways you can in all the places you can at all the times you can to all the people you can as long as ever you can.”
In the name and spirit of Christ, we join with you in Christian love for these children. God bless you.
Bishop of the New Mexico and Northwest Texas Conferences
Bishop of the Rio Grande and Southwest Texas Conferences
Bishop of the Texas Conference
Bishop of the Central Texas Conference
Bishop of the North Texas Conference