New Missouri Synod report offers ‘framework’ for addressing immigration

For Immediate Release

Contact: Vicki Biggs
Director, Integrated Communications
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
www.lcms.org
314-996-1236
314-556-3829 (cell)

New Missouri Synod report offers ‘framework’ for addressing immigration
‘Immigrants Among Us’ provides basis for study, discussion

ST. LOUIS, February 25, 2013—Raise the subject of immigration and be prepared for a spirited debate. Christians who hold to the Scriptures can have varying personal and political views about the best ways to compassionately care for and serve those who come to live in the United States from other countries. A new report, “Immigrants Among Us,” by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) offers theological guidance from a Lutheran perspective for thinking through immigration issues and some practical guidance for ministering to immigrants.

“The great strength of ‘Immigrants Among Us,’ in my view, is its theological grounding and orientation,” said the Rev. Dr. Joel D. Lehenbauer, executive director of the CTCR, who oversaw the development of the report. “The report seeks to encourage and stimulate serious reflection and discussion about what it means to show Christ-like love to our immigrant neighbors, and to do so in ways that are consistent with Christ-centered theological principles rooted in Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.”

A resolution brought to the Synod in convention in 2007 petitioned the CTCR to research the historical and theological foundations relevant to immigration and provide guidance to LCMS congregations for ministry to immigrants, including the potential difficulty of caring for undocumented people or other immigrants in ambiguous legal situations. Because time constraints prevented consideration of the resolution during the convention proceedings, the CTCR was later asked to take on the assignment. The resulting report, which is available in English and Spanish, was approved by the CTCR in November 2012 and published earlier this month.

Although the report does not present an “official position” of the LCMS regarding immigration, it does offer a helpful resource for Christians considering the challenging issue of immigration. The report discusses:

  • a Lutheran theological approach for thinking about immigration issues and engaging with a congregation’s or individual’s immigrant neighbors.
  • the Christian’s twofold responsibility to love the neighbor and obey civil authorities,
  • how Christians carrying out various God-given vocations approach their responsibilities on behalf of the neighbors God has placed into their lives, and
  • a pastoral framework for ministering to undocumented immigrants in certain situations.

It also includes eight case studies that engage real-life issues and offers guidelines for church workers interacting with immigrants in their churches, schools or communities.

“It was a privilege to serve as the lead drafter of ‘Immigrants Among Us,’ working alongside members of the CTCR and with partners such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) in the process of reflecting and writing on a sensitive and timely issue affecting many neighbors, both immigrants and citizens,” said the Rev. Dr. Leopoldo Sánchez, associate professor of Systematic Theology and director, Center for Hispanic Studies, at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and primary drafter of the report. “Because immigration always has a human face, the strength of the report lies in its particular attention to the role our neighbors, and our God-given vocations through which we serve them, play in our thinking about immigration law and immigrant neighbors.”

“‘Immigrants Among Us’ calls us to ground our thinking and our actions in understanding immigrants as our neighbors, whom God commands us to love,” said Linda Hartke, president and CEO of LIRS, which welcomes refugees on behalf of the LCMS and other Lutheran denominations in America. “We are grateful to the LCMS through the CTCR for this invitation to Lutherans to study, pray and discern together pathways forward in the complex and challenging topic of immigration in the United States.”

To download a copy of the report, visit www.lcms.org/ctcr.

About The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
The 2.3 million-member Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination headquartered in St. Louis. Through acts of witness and mercy, the church carries out its mission worldwide to make known the love of Jesus Christ. Learn more at www.lcms.org.

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