February 5, 2009
Subject: An Ecumenical Time of Prayer for Immigrants
Dear members of the Central Texas faith community,
In the New Testament, Jesus asks us to welcome the stranger, for "what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me" (Matthew 25:40). The Old Testament counsels the Hebrews: "The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Leviticus 19:33-34). The Qur'an demands that we "do good toŠthose in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer that you meet" (4:36). The Hindu Taitiriya Upanishad tells us: "The guest is a representative of God" (1.11.2).
As we begin a new century and a new millenium, our American immigration system is broken, causing havoc for both immigrants and hosts. It's time to talk about ways to create new policies that will better serve us all. As this dialogue opens, I'd like to invite you and your congregation to join us in an Ecumenical Time of Prayer for Immigrants on February 15, 7:00 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church (at University and Ash) in Georgetown. This vigil, sponsored by the Southwest Texas Methodist Federation for Social Action, is one of many to be held across the nation Feb. 13-16 to call all people of faith to welcome the stranger in our midst.
Reworking our immigration system will require a strong statement from a united community of conscience; but although the hierarchies of the Roman Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, and other Christian churches have come out strongly in favor of welcoming our new immigrants, we find that many Americans are too concerned about survival issues to be anything but suspicious of those who want to share the shrinking economic pie. The enclosed immigration fact sheet can be used an impetus for opening discussions with your members to help us all come to a better understanding of the problems that exist for various players in this drama. Other useful resources will be available at our vigil.
We hope you will join us as we pray for all immigrants and their families, remembering that most of our ancestors were immigrants as well.
Rev. Milton S. Jordan