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Bishop Davis' Statement on Immigration

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Davis

My grandson is six years old and a kindergarten student at Veterans Park Elementary in Lexington. Veterans Park is a Chinese Language Immersion school. So he is learning a second language while he is also learning to read and write English. Such is the world in which we live. We live in a nation that is very diverse and rapidly changing.
Immigrants are a part of our current reality. They make up 15% of the work force in our nation, and it is estimated that a third of these persons are undocumented. They work jobs many others don’t want, sometimes two and three jobs at a time. They do it on the cheap so that their children will have a better life. They use services like hospitals and schools. They also pay taxes which contribute to those public services.
Like most issues, immigration is complex. If there were simple solutions, our nation would have employed them by now. Sure, it would be great if everyone were here legally. It would be helpful if our borders were secure. It would be wonderful if our immigration service was not a disaster. It would be great if other nations had economies robust enough to support their citizens so that leaving home was not so attractive. Public policy has to deal with how things are, not always how things ought to be. Immigration legislation in Frankfort is currently being considered, and I have some deep concerns about what direction these efforts will take.
I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on immigration issues. But here are a few things I do know.
1. We have many immigrants in our United Methodist Churches. Some are documented and some are not. They love the Lord and they love our church. They are my people and I will stand for them and with them during these current debates.
2. Scripture is very clear. We are to treat with love, care and generosity those who are strangers and sojourners among us. I take this biblical mandate very seriously. It would be a mistake for our state to criminalize the ministry of churches which feed the hungry, clothe the naked and reach out to the poor.
3. Immigration reform is needed but on a federal level. Individual attempts by states will, in my opinion, not be helpful. In fact, it will be very costly.
On our website you can find several source documents which will help you understand some of the complexities of this issue. Let us all be in prayer for our legislative leaders. They have a difficult job and are in need of our prayerful support and encouragement in these days to come. And, as we consider these issues, may our speech and actions take place “as if we were in the immediate presence of God.”

Here are resources pertaining to our stance on immigration issues:

United Methodist Book of Resolutions 2008 - Statement on Immigration

United Methodist Church Council of Bishops - Statement on the U.S. Immigration Situation

Kentucky Council of Churches - Immigration Reform Statement

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