Harrison encourages church workers on immigration concerns

Cuban immigrants new to the United States arrive May 21, 2016, at Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care in El Paso, Texas. In a recent letter to Synod church workers, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison offers encouragement and hope to those ministering to immigrants, in light of expected immigration “policy and enforcement” changes by the U.S. government. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

In a Jan. 6 letter to the Synod’s Hispanic-ministry workers that’s expected to be emailed Jan. 27 to all other LCMS rostered church workers, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison shares “words of encouragement and hope” in light of expected “policy and enforcement” changes by the U.S. government toward immigrants.

In the letter, Harrison assures church workers that they “are not alone” in their ministries because of Jesus’ “constant protection” as well as their shared Baptism and Synod membership.

The LCMS, he writes, “is doing everything possible within its capacities to assist you in compassionate action” toward immigrants. “We have and will continue to stand with Jesus’ mandate to ‘love your neighbor’ in the case of immigrants, documented or not, even as we provide assistance within the bounds of the law.”

The letter includes references to Synod immigration policies, and provides contacts in the LCMS Office of National Mission who may be able to help church workers and congregation members facing deportation.

The letter is available in English and Spanish on the webpage of the Office of the President.

Posted January 26, 2017

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36 Responses to Harrison encourages church workers on immigration concerns

  1. Joanie Brown January 26, 2017 at 9:15 pm #

    The only deportations scheduled are for violent criminal illegal aliens. Doesn’t our LCMS agree with that?

  2. Donald Collins January 27, 2017 at 9:45 am #

    Dear President Harrison,

    I would hope in your encouragement that you would point out that the US Government is undergoing a restoration and reformation to the core values that this country was founded on as a nation under God. Very appropriate for the 500th anniversary of the church reformation.

    That the existing secular immigration laws, enacted to protect America and its citizens, are finally going to be applied properly after generations of neglect and chaos for citizens, immigrants (a legally processed status in the US) and illegal aliens alike. That the laws will be applied with compassionate considerations for those illegal aliens, currently in the US, who are peaceful and just looking for a better way of life.

    Today there is also a need to balance security concerns for our secular neighbors (Kingdom of the World) and Christians (Kingdom of God) at home with spiritual care for neighbors coming to our shores for asylum. Indoctrination given to church workers in Luther’s ” Secular Authority; to what extent it should be obeyed” is key to scriptural understanding of how to achieve that balance in a God pleasing way! When to resist and when not to resist as Luther puts it.

    Yours in Christ,
    Don Collins

    • Mary Smith February 3, 2017 at 11:32 am #

      Thank you! This is well stated and thoughtful!! Agreed.

  3. Rev. Donald Jordan January 27, 2017 at 2:52 pm #

    And let us also remind all that these are illegal immigrants, not undocumented as you state. They are breaking the law. That should be noted. Thank God our country is finally doing something to enforce and protect our borders for our safety and security.

  4. Regis C January 28, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    The use of the expression “undocumented immigrant” by President Harrison is unfortunate. There is no such a class of people. If you drive without a driver’s license, you are not an “undocumented driver”. If you practice medicine in this country without a license, you are not an “undocumented physician”. If you fly a commercial airliner without a license, you are not an “undocumented pilot”. All of that is illegal, as it requires proper government authorization in the form of a license. Immigrating to this country, or any country, also requires government authorization. It is called a Visa. It is the law. If you do not have it, you are an illegal immigrant, there is no other way to say it.

  5. Wayne P Hilchen January 28, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    We should be compassionate. We should also follow the laws of the land. We should also expect others to honor and respect them as well. When a person knows they are breaking the law and goes on anyway they must understand there are consequences. It is called sin. Can they be forgiven, yes. However, there are consequences, too. May God guide us through the process of improving our immigration situation.

    • Jaymie February 4, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

      So sin is breaking God’s law or mans?

  6. Tim Krause January 28, 2017 at 11:33 am #

    Let’s not forget God’s 4th commandment in reference to authority. In this case, it would apply to the ILLEGAL immigrants entering this country and an administration that appears to be doing something about it.

  7. John J Flanagan January 28, 2017 at 12:06 pm #

    As a nation of laws, America has been remiss during the past decades in weakly enforcing existing immigration regulations. Because of this weakness, millions of illegal immigrants simply walked into our land, defying our laws and overriding our sovereignty. While some have come for work and opportunities, others have come for nefarious reasons, as part of cartel gangs and criminals, and this has resulted in a continuous flow of illegal drugs into the United States. This has made America less safe. This is madness. While we need to treat refugees humanely, we need to consider our own population and our country’s sovereignty. We are not a dumping ground. Even America has limitations as it relates to immigration. Godly wisdom must prevail, but we cannot have open borders any longer. This administration under Donald Trump, can find a bipartisan approach, unlike purely Democratic/Leftists during the Obama years….who merely want to exploit the issue and gain the votes of illegal aliens to secure their power.

  8. David Wesener January 28, 2017 at 7:38 pm #

    I also ask for clarification on what is the official synod policy and what is the “president of synod” policy on people who have illegally entered the United States. Perhaps it was the way the article was written or perhaps the way the quotes by the president were shared, but I am glad to see that I am not the only one who was motivated to ask for additional information.

    • LCMS Church Information Center February 3, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

      Thank you for your comment. In order to clarify, the Synod has not taken an official position on this issue.

  9. Kate B. January 29, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    Let us remember…
    35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

  10. Jason Traxler January 30, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    Anne. Only a temporary order to establish a vetting program and a blanket hold on not just Muslims, but everyone including Christians. Just as the wall is not intended to stop immigration but to put controls on immigrants who do not wish to live peacefully within the laws of the United States the vetting process is to screen out those whose social values and laws conflict with our laws.

    • Mark J January 31, 2017 at 9:33 am #

      Jason, I hope you realize that we already have an extensive vetting program that involves multiple government agencies and often requires refugees to remain in UN camps for years before they can enter the US.

      • Jen February 3, 2017 at 10:32 am #

        Mark you mean the same vetting program that let in Abdul Razak Ali Artan in?

    • Joan January 31, 2017 at 9:40 am #

      Jason. President Trump stated in a recent interview that Christians would be given priority over Muslims when attempting to leave these distressed countries. You certainly may know this information already, but I must contest that does not imply equal treatment. I’m also reminded in times like this that our Lord befriended those whose social values were different. I agree with Anne and will Shine with the Light of Christ in welcoming all people. Blessings to you!

    • Pr. Steven Renner January 31, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

      The current vetting process starts with the UN which passes only 1% of the people seeking admission to a country, other then where they are residing, which includes most countries including the US. THEN each refugee must go through fingerprinting, DNA checks AND iris scans repeatedly for 18-24 MONTHS. Only then are they permitted into the US. Even as they are boarding the plane to the US they are again searched, fingerprinted, DNA and iris scanned. In Louisville KY we have a huge immigrant population and have never had any problems.

  11. Jenny Adkins January 30, 2017 at 10:55 am #

    I am encouraged by the comments made by Anne, Alvin, and Kate. Your sentiments echo Acts 17:26 ‘And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.’ We are all created in God’s image; we are all called on to love our neighbor (everyone is your neighbor, if you’re unsure). These truths trump man-made law.

    I call on President Harrison to release a statement about the executive order that is targeting Muslims.

    Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention is sending a letter today to the White House. I hope our synod steps up and calls this out for what it is – racism and gross nationalism.

    Nothing could be further from our Christian principles. God help us.

    • GeorgieGirl February 3, 2017 at 8:08 am #

      It is not a ban on Muslims. These poorly governed nations just so happen to have large Muslim populations.

    • Chris February 3, 2017 at 8:56 am #

      Once again, it is not targeting Muslims. It is targeting countries where terrorist organizations exist. We have many people in our own country to do the scripture from Matthew.

  12. The Rev. BT Ball January 30, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    It is sad that confusion reigns in these comments. Clarification is in order.

    1. There is nothing in the constitution of the United States mandating that our federal goverment must provide refugee status to anyone. Immigration law has changed repeatedly since the nation’s founding and is continually open to debate and discussion.
    2. The Christian Church has no mandate from Jesus Christ to advocate for changes in the immigration policy of the United States.
    3. Christians are free to advocate for restricted immigration and the restriction of our country’s refugee allowances and may do so without sin. A Christian is free to let his light shine before the world by supporting the current president in the defense and protection of the citizens and lawful residents of the United States.

    • Jais H. Tinglund January 31, 2017 at 7:20 pm #

      Absolutely correct, and worth clarifying.

      Also worth clarifying:

      It is right for a Christian, regardless of what he or she thinks appropriate immigration laws would be, to be supportive of the leadership of his or her Church seeking “a thoughtful, prayerful and compassionate response to our broken immigration system, advocating for a response that does not act harshly and disrespectfully toward the undocumented and rejecting the callous separation and detention of families”

      • Wendy Benton February 2, 2017 at 11:30 am #

        Why is there “callous separation and detention?” If the parent must leave the government would certainly want them to take their children with them. There are plenty of our neighbors right here in this country that need our compassion. We are 20 some trillion in debt, it is not compassionate to put our own nation in deeper financial trouble, to pay for people who come here illegally.

      • Robert February 2, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

        Except “broken immigration system” and “undocumented” are code words used by open borders advocates, who hold a position concerning sovereign nations and immigration that are contrary to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.

        In such an instance, a Christian is morally obligated not to support anyone, especially ordained clergy, who advocate for an unbiblical position.

    • Nancy Myczek February 4, 2017 at 7:46 am #

      AMEN

  13. Syrus January 30, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

    28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

    36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

    37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

    Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise”

    • Karl February 3, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

      Thank you . Thankfully Syrus we do have his word to guide us. As to often is the case these day our brethren get caught in the minutiae of the law and forget Chris’s actual teachings. In Mathew 25 the parable of the sheep and the goats lays out how we are to treat those who need our. In light of the terrible suffering of refugees fleeing death and destruction it is good to go back to the bible and remember the charge to us

      34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

  14. Louis Dicks January 31, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

    Right on

  15. Pastor Kent Krumwiede January 31, 2017 at 3:57 pm #

    Anne, the exact point of the opposition towards President Trump’s executive order. It is not seeking to make use of the existing laws in place, but it seeks to create isolationism from those we do not like or of whom we approve. Not only are we to be a light, but we are also to be salt, and salt not only gives flavor but preserves. We are the salt to preserve the life of all people.

    • Carl Vehse February 1, 2017 at 8:39 pm #

      ELCA lay minister Krumwiede: “it seeks to create isolationism from those we do not like or of whom we approve.”

      No. President Trump’s Executive Order seeks to protect the American people from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.

  16. Keith Freie February 1, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    ILLEGAL is the key word. While we should treat them respectfully they are breaking our law. I personally do not believe our existing laws to be “racist or hateful”. Until we get a handle on allowing immigrants to enter this country the flow needs to be addressed. For years I have disagreed with the thought that our tax dollars (which we are instructed by Christ to pay) should be the impetus of support in the current manner. If we are truly Christian support should come from us personally in a greater degree. Finally, those that would do us harm come along with those that sincerely seek our help. Thank you to the new administration that is to date giving Christians some type of support.

  17. Don Collins February 2, 2017 at 4:45 am #

    This last election was about waking up to the fact that we need to fix our country and have compassion towards the millions of people that are hurting across America. We wont be able to help others until we straighten ourselves out. Charity begins at home.

  18. GeorgieGirl February 3, 2017 at 7:57 am #

    First and foremost, why does the church not address the final commandment Thou shalt not covet? I have compassion for those truly seeking refugee status but for the illegal coming into our country, I must take a different stand. Where is their faith that God walks with them daily? Life is not “fair” due to sin so “fair” should be taken out of the equation. Even Moses experienced disappointment but continued to walk with God. LCMS should address coveting and illegals.

  19. Rev. Jeffrey Gross February 3, 2017 at 10:15 am #

    We also need to provide help to the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs because many companies have hired H1B foreign workers to gain government grants and so fire veteran employees who cost the company more in pay and benefits. Many manual-labor jobs are also given to undocumented foreigners because the companies often do not pay FICA tax, etc., for them, thereby reducing legal citizens’ job opportunities.
    Further, many foreigners have come into the US hoping for welfare, food stamps, housing assistance, etc., thereby forcing Americans to part with their fairly-earned income in increased taxes. The Holy Spirit said through St. Paul, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” The Spirit was addressing exactly those people who impose upon the Christian charity of congregations just to freeload, being unwilling to work and preying upon the generosity of Christians especially.
    Finally, we need to help law enforcement officials, empowered with “the sword” by God Himself, who must deal with the violence of drug cartels, illegal smugglers, and jihadists as they endanger the lives of American while posing as helpless ‘undocumented immigrants’. Border Patrol agents, ICE, and local law enforcement members lives are endangered by the lawless behavior of the previous Administration.
    So in our desire to show charity for strangers and foreigners’, let us not encourage nor condone massive law-breaking, theft, coveting, greed, and violence.

  20. Leslie February 4, 2017 at 11:55 am #

    Anne – thank you. I feel a little less alone in seeing these comments.

  21. Anne Benson February 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

    Wow. I thought scripture told us to follow the laws unless it violates our beliefs. Where is the word illegal. I have worked with many immigrants and the ones I want here are the ones who love our country and want to follow our laws. Very disappointed in this from Harrison and maybe my ex-denomination.

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