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What We Believe: Immigration

May 11, 2018
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What We Believe: United Methodist Perspectives on Immigration in the United States

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

“Welcoming the Migrant to the US” is a hallmark of United Methodist communities of faith, according to the 2016 Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church. “Throughout Scripture,” document 3281 notes, “the people of God are called to love sojourners in our midst, treating them “as if they were one of your citizens” and loving them as we do ourselves (Leviticus 19:33-34).”

“Welcoming the migrant is not only an act of mission; it is an opportunity to receive God’s Grace,” the resolution continues.

The 2016 Book of Resolutions “state the policy of The United Methodist Church on many social issues and concerns.” The Resolutions are approved by the General Conference, the quadrennial international meeting of the denomination. “Only the General Conference speaks for The United Methodist Church.”

Resolution 3281 includes an invitation for “all United Methodist Churches to welcome newly arriving immigrants in their communities, to love them as we do ourselves, to treat them as one of our native-born, to see in them the presence of the incarnated Jesus, and to show hospitality to the migrants in our midst, believing that through their presence we are receiving the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The General Conference also approves a set of Social Principles for the church. Part of a “long history of concern for social justice” (2016 Book of Discipline, p. 105) the social principles date back to the 1908 adoption of a social creed by The Methodist Episcopal Church (North), something soon followed by The Methodist Episcopal Church (South) and The Methodist Protestant Church. “Each successive General Conference” can, and does, revise the Social Principles.

“We oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or that include detention of families with children, and we call on local churches to be in ministry with immigrant families.” (2016 Book of Discipline, “Social Principles” para 162).