Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Free Methodists Now Say about Immigration

This resolution was adopted at this summer's General Conference of the Free Methodist Church USA

"Issues surrounding immigrants and refugees in the United States are complex. They require solutions that halt criminal activity, provide access for legal documentation, and serve the needs of all persons--loved and created by God--who have come to the United States under a variety of circumstances.  As we work to provide actions that minister to all immigrants and refugees, we do so with the basic underlying convictions:

1. We commit to the Biblical principle of caring for the foreigners among us regardless of racial or ethnic background, country of origin, or legal status.

2. We commit to acting redemptively with love rather than fear, and to reach out to meet needs as we see them.

3. We commit to identifying intolerance and working to end it, as well as ending any personal inclinations to refer to individuals in less than loving terms.

4. Where there is a conflict, it is our duty to oppose all unjust and harsh laws and to seek to change them. [This amendment was added to the resolution by Greg Coates of Indianapolis; it was ratified. See Greg's comment]

5. We commit to responding to this crisis in terms of the Great Commission, seeking to reach the lost whoever they may be; ministering to all, caring for all, and showing God's grace to all people.

Be it further resolved, that the position statement be distributed to all conferences, churches and entities of the denomination.

Be it resolved that the Study Commission on Doctrine be charged with developing guidelines and actions steps to help the FMC-USA respond to issues surrounding immigrants and refugees.

Be it further resolved that these guidelines and actions steps be included in the Church Leader's Manual and made available to other general conferences of the FMC around the world."

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My responses: 

1. Let us follow clear, courageous statements and resolutions with clear, courageous actions as individuals and communities of faith.

2. While this resolution comes later in time and is less assertive than numerous other Christian communions, it brings clarity and direction for Free Methodists, breaking a season of ecclesiastic reticence or uncertainty.

3. This resolution runs counter to laws that have recently been enacted in several states.

4. This resolution stops short of directly calling on our federal government to enact a comprehensive law that reflects the principles and practices it commends.


5. This resolution invites individual Free Methodists, clergy, congregations, and groups of Free Methodists to engage the immigration issue with confidence and wisdom.


6. Thank you, General Conference of the Free Methodist Church USA.

3 comments:

  1. John,

    your information isn't precisely correct (unless you were paraphrasing). Notice the language of point 4 as found in the official minutes of the conference (which was inserted upon a motion by yours truly):

    3. We commit to identifying intolerance and working to end it, as well as
    ending any personal inclinations to refer to individuals in less than loving
    terms.
    ((4. Where there is a conflict, it is our duty to oppose all unjust and harsh laws
    and to seek to change them.))
    5. We commit to responding to this crisis in terms of the Great Commission,
    seeking to reach the lost whoever they may be; ministering to all, caring
    for all, and showing God’s grace to all people.

    That was my one contribution to GC. I felt it was very important to make a political statement in opposition to unjust laws. After rigorous debate, it passed by about 60%-40%.

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  2. Thanks, Greg. Apparently, I have an edition of the resolution before it was revised. Yours is an excellent addition. Thanks for insisting on it.

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  3. I am glad to see the Free Methodists move in a direction that is counter to the direction that other evangelical groups have chosen. Greg, thank you for insisting on including a Biblical mandate concerning justice seeking. It sometimes appears that many Christians have forgotten that we were directly commissioned numerous times in Scripture to seek justice for the alien and foreign among us!

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