EUROPEAN AMERICAN LUTHERAN ASSOCIATION OF THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA SUMMONS CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY TO ADDRESS RECENT STATE LAWS INVOLVING IMMIGRANTS
With an increasing amount of states passing or proposing various laws regarding the presence of immigrants, legal and illegal, within their boundaries, the European American Lutheran Association’s Board of Directors, at their annual meeting in Atlanta, GA July, 2011, approved a resolution addressing this issue.
The resolution points out that the biblical witness calls for care and hospitality toward the stranger and that in 1998 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted a message on immigration advocating fair and generous laws. The resolution also states the Bishops of the ELCA, also in 1998, joined Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services in issuing a document entitled “Call for Fair and Just Immigration Reform”.
The resolution also states some recent state laws make it a crime to be a person out of status and requires local police to act as federal immigration agents. In addition it notes some laws limit the free exercise of religion by criminalizing even humanitarian ministries often provided by clergy or congregation members.
The resolution quotes the “Vision and Expectations” document of the ELCA for rostered leaders which states that leadership is expected “to be committed to justice in the life of the church, in society, and in the world”, “including testimony against injustice and oppression whether personal or systemic.” The resolution points out that in our covenant of Holy Baptism as written in the book of Evangelical Lutheran Worship, we the baptized are called to “serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”
In its resolves the resolution calls for the 2011 Churchwide Assembly, meeting in Orlando, FL, August 15-19 2011, to affirm the 1998 actions of LIRS and the synod bishops. In addition current bishops are encouraged to repudiate punitive laws passed within their jurisdictions and that congregations and institutions welcome and serve persons regardless of their documented status. Finally, it asks that all members of the ELCA “be encouraged to protest all laws and proposed laws that ignore the Bible’s witness to care for the stranger among us and that violate our baptismal covenant to serve all people and strive for justice and peace in all the earth, by writing local, state, and national legislators, and participating in public rallies and protests against laws that criminalize the free exercise of this expression of biblical faith.”
A copy of the resolution can be seen at the website of the European American Lutheran Association, www.elca-eala.org/download/immigration-resolution.pdf
The European American Lutheran Association (EALA) is one of six ethnic associations within the Multicultural Ministries of the ELCA’s Congregational and Synodical Mission unit. The EALA was constituted in Chicago, October 2008 at the request of the other ethnic associations, Afirican American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Arab and Middle Eastern Heritage, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Latino. 97% of the ELCA’s membership can identify themselves as European American, descendants of European immigrants.