With more people forced from their homes than ever before, the Council of Bishops is urging extra support for The United Methodist Church’s work with migrants.
The kind of support bishops have in mind will require approval from General Conference and other church decision-makers.
“Human migration is as old as human history starting with Abraham and Sarah,” Bishop Minerva Carcaño, chair of the United Methodist Immigration Task Force, told her fellow episcopal leaders.
“There continues to be more than 65 million people who have been forced to migrate from every region of the world,” she said, citing data from the World Health Organization. “It is a last resort for people.”
The migration crisis has no end in sight. Natural disasters exacerbated by climate change, violence incited by bigotry and humanity’s “warring ways” will continue to force people to seek new refuge, she said.
But whatever leads people to take flight, the Council of Bishops agreed that the church has a role in welcoming the sojourner.
“This is the journey that is before us as people of the Christian faith and people of good heart,” said Carcaño, who also leads the California-Nevada Conference.
The Immigration Task Force will ask next year’s General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body, to designate an annual Special Sunday offering to support Global Migration Advance (No. 3022144), a fund established in 2014 to support migrants around the globe.
The denomination currently has six churchwide Special Sundays that fund particular efforts such as peace work, scholarships, Native American ministries and the administrative costs of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
The proposed Global Migration Sunday proceeds would also go to UMCOR and its parent agency, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, to address migrant issues.
If General Conference approves, the new Global Migration Sunday would start in 2021.
In the meantime, the bishops also plan to ask church leaders to authorize a Sunday in 2020 for an offering to the Global Migration Advance. Such a special offering requires the approval of the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination’s finance agency, and the Connectional Table, which acts as a sort of church council for the denomination.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble, who leads the Indiana Conference, told his colleagues that support for global migration could be “a guaranteed win for the church only if the full Council of Bishops would support this and its implementation.”
Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda, whose conferences in East Congo supported the previous Global Migration Sunday, told bishops about the history that has led so many refugees to his home Democratic Republic of Congo.
“In all of these cases, it is the children and women who suffer most,” Unda said through an interpreter.
But with help from United Methodist partners, including Global Ministries and a number of U.S. conferences, he said his area is helping the displaced.
excerpt by Heather Hahn, multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service.
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