While “issues related to immigration and immigration laws are causing distress in our land, it is not the role of the church to specify particular civil legislation, either to its own constituency or to the government,” says a June 2 statement from two Synod leaders.
“We do, however, pray that God will grant wisdom and discernment to our nation’s elected leaders as they endeavor to provide appropriate solutions to this very real dilemma,” LCMS President Gerald B. Kieschnick and Rev. Matthew Harrison, executive director of LCMS World Relief/Human Care, say in their joint statement.
“Meanwhile, in order to fulfill our Christian obligation,” their statement continues, “we also request that the charitable act of providing assistance to undocumented aliens not otherwise engaged in illegal activity not be criminalized ipso facto.”
“The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod affirms the right, responsibility, and authority of the government to act as God’s agent, according to what is reasonable and just, in the creation and enforcement of laws (Rom. 13:1-7),” the statement says. “It follows that we recognize and affirm the responsibility of the government to regulate immigration in a godly manner while considering the many factors that deserve careful attention.”
For Kieschnick and Harrison’s entire “Joint Statement Regarding Immigration Concerns,” go to www.lcms.org/?10023 on the Web.
The statement begins by recalling that the 2.5-million-member Synod traces its origin to German Lutheran immigrants who came to Missouri in the mid-19th century seeking religious freedom.
“With this as part of its history, the LCMS has been sensitive to the needs of immigrants across its 159-year history,” Kieschnick and Harrison say, pointing out that the Synod and its 6,150 congregations have welcomed immigrants “from all parts of the world.” They note that in more recent years, such resettlement has been done in cooperation with social-ministry organizations and through a partnership with Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
“Millions of undocumented persons have come to the United States for many and various reasons,” the two church leaders say. “They have come to flee oppression of many sorts, including extreme poverty and hunger. They have come in order to make provision for their loved ones. They have come in order to end separation from loved ones. They have come illegally because they have deemed that the legal route is nearly impossible to maneuver. They have come because they can work, and they find dignity in labor. We recognize also that a small percentage have come for malevolent reasons.
“Christians equally committed to God’s Word may reasonably arrive at different conclusions on specific aspects of these issues and their resolution,” the joint statement says.
“However, this much is certain: God, in His Word, consistently shows His loving concern for ‘the stranger in our midst’ and directs His people to do the same.”
“We pray that appropriate solutions may be found,” Kieschnick and Harrison’s statement concludes, “so that our assistance to those in need can also include helping persons become legal residents and citizens of this land of freedom and opportunity in which God has so richly blessed us.”
“The [joint] statement is not intended as a blanket answer to all questions, but rather a foundation point for further intelligent thought and action,” according to an “Immigration Issues” page on the LCMS World Relief/Human Care Web site. That page, at http://www.lcms.org/?9987, provides links to a number of other Web sites and documents addressing immigration matters.
Posted June 30, 2006