Don Shoemaker, who chairs the Social Concerns Committee for the Charis Fellowship, recently sent an update addressing the recent situation involving U.S. immigration. Click here to read it in its entirety.
The situation at our nation’s border where families are separated is a very fluid situation. The President has just signed an executive order. By the time this email is read, things could change.
I don’t need to review the particulars—you all know them.
Laws passed by legislatures often provide for a range of applications that are decided by those who write regulations or issue directives. So it is in this case. At their best, politicians are fulfilling their calling by striving to balance rights and values and the rule of law. At their worst, they are grandstanding and posturing for political advantage.
YOU have already spoken on this matter through your delegates at our annual business sessions. Since 2012, resolutions on immigration have been adopted in one form or another, but all are thematically similar (see especially 4c below).
Resolutions are not just things to be archived and put under a bushel basket. They are prophetic proclamations that declare our positions and call the church and nation to action. We’re not the Southern Baptist Convention (view the SBC resolution at the end) with the impact it has, but we have our own God-given voice.
Let’s be deeply in prayer for our country and our leaders as they wrestle for a resolution to the current dilemma. Let’s pray and work for civility in how our leaders and citizens talk to and treat one another (I’ve heard words on this issue by Christians that I could not reproduce here!).
And let’s hereby practice the admonition of the Prophet Micah, who calls us to “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with our God.” All three.
Chair, Social Concerns Committee
Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches Resolution on Immigration
a. All people are made in the Image of God
b. Respect for the rule of law is essential in a civil society
c. Secure borders are the right and need of every nation
d. Israel was frequently reminded by God that she should show mercy to the immigrant because she, too, was once an oppressed and exploited people
e. The prophets in Scripture demanded special compassion to the exploited and vulnerable, including the “alien in the land”
f. Our nation is populated by people from a multitude of cultures and lands
g. The presence of undocumented people in this country (and in our churches) is a fact and a complex issue not easily resolved
(1) We therefore call on our churches to give prayer, thought, discussion and action toward addressing the problem of the undocumented immigrant in a God-honoring way.
(2) We recognize the divisive and controversial nature of this debate and we encourage dialogue in the churches that is respectful, open-minded and solution-focused.
(3) We further call on our churches to be the “reconciling presence of Christ” in the midst of a broken system that creates rancor, resentment, racism, selfishness, fear, exploitation, and disregard for law.
(4) We call on our society and elected leaders to rise above political posturing and rancor to work toward a solution on immigration that:
a. Respects the God-given dignity of every person
b. Rejects the nativism that ignores the love of God for all and our country’s history of immigration and openness to the foreigner, as captured in the words enshrined on the Statue of Liberty
c. Protects the unity of the immediate family and seeks the best interests of native-born children of undocumented immigrants
d. Respects the rule of law
e. Holds employers accountable for ensuring the legal status of workers
f. Creates secure national borders
g. Ensures fairness to taxpayers
h. Develops a generous and fair “guest worker” program
i. Protects all immigrants from exploitation and violence
j. Establishes a pathway toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents or citizens—a pathway that both achieves justice and loves mercy.
We recognize that meaningful solutions to this problem are not easily reached. We also recognize the solutions must come through a determined will to reach them and cannot be ignored time after time, year after year.
(Adopted in 2012 and 2013, and in modified forms 2014-17)
Southern Baptist Convention Resolution (#5) On Immigration (2018)
WHEREAS, Every man, woman, and child from every language, race, and nation is a special creation of God, made in His own image (Genesis 1:26–27); and
WHEREAS, Longings to protect one’s family from warfare, violence, disease, extreme poverty, and other destitute conditions are universal, driving millions of people to leave their homelands to seek a better life for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren; and
WHEREAS, God commands His people to treat immigrants with the same respect and dignity as those native born (Leviticus 19:33–34; Jeremiah 7:5–7; Ezekiel 47:22; Zechariah 7:9–10); and
WHEREAS, Scripture is clear on the believer’s hospitality towards immigrants, stating that meeting the material needs of “strangers” is tantamount to serving the Lord Jesus Himself (Matthew 25:35–40; Hebrews 13:2); and
WHEREAS, Southern Baptists affirm the value of the family, stating in The Baptist Faith and Message that “God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society” (Article XVIII), and Scripture makes clear that parents are uniquely responsible to raise their children “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4); and
WHEREAS, Untold numbers of men and women seeking to enter the United States legally, desiring to become good citizens of our country, often languish at the borders due to the complexity of our immigration system; and
WHEREAS, In its 2011 resolution “On Immigration and The Gospel,” messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention asked our governing authorities to prioritize efforts to secure the borders and to hold businesses accountable for hiring practices as they relate to immigration status; and
WHEREAS, In that same resolution, Southern Baptist Convention messengers also asked our governing authorities to implement, with the borders secured, a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country; and
WHEREAS, At the time, Southern Baptist Convention messengers made clear that the wording of the resolution was not to be construed as support for amnesty for any undocumented immigrant living in violation of the law of the land; and
WHEREAS, After seven years of continued policy gridlock, there have been no substantive changes in the immigration system that would make it more just, humane, efficient, and orderly; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 12–13, 2018, affirm the value and dignity of immigrants, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, culture, national origin, or legal status; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we desire to see immigration reform include an emphasis on securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures, maintaining the priority of family unity, resulting in an efficient immigration system that honors the value and dignity of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we declare that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage all elected officials, especially those who are members of Southern Baptist churches, to do everything in their power to advocate for a just and equitable immigration system, those in the professional community to seek ways to administer just and compassionate care for the immigrants in their community, and our Southern Baptist entities to provide resources that will equip and empower churches and church members to reach and serve immigrant communities; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage pastors to address immigration issues with their local churches and to exhort their congregations to serve their local immigrant communities; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we affirm that all immigrants are either brothers and sisters in Christ or people whom God loves and has given us an opportunity to reach with the gospel where otherwise they may never have heard.