WASHINGTON -- To demonstrate solidarity with and compassion for migrants around the world, members of the United Methodist agency charged with championing intercultural and interracial justice, reconciliation and cooperation will cross the U.S. border into Mexico on February 23, 2017.
Voting members and staff of the General Commission on Religion and Race say this action is "to be in community with those caring for and affected by U.S. immigration policies."
Erin M. Hawkins, Commission staff executive, says her office planned the border crossing before U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on immigration. At the same time, Hawkins added, she hopes this action will be a call to United Methodist Christians to welcome the strangers among us.
"In light of the great fear that exists in the wake of President Trump's actions against migrants and refugees and keeping in mind that this matter is global in scope, we see the opportunity to bear witness to the realities of migration as a blessing. We hope to not only bring a ministry of presence during our border crossing experience, but to be transformed by the stories that we hear along the way."
The Commission, one of 14 church-wide programs and administrative agencies serving the 7-million-member Church, is holding its semi-annual board meeting on February 22-25, 2017 in San Diego, CA. The cross will take them through the San Ysidro Port of Entry which is the largest and busiest land border in the Western Hemisphere.
The border crossing experience is being organized by leaders of the California Pacific Annual Conference and will include prayer at the border wall, conversations with deported U.S. veterans, border personnel and Haitian refugees, and learning about local church ministry with migrant families. Follow along with the experience on Facebook and Twitter using #GCORRcross throughout the day on February 23.
GCORR will be the first General Church representatives to make a witness at the border since the issuing of an executive order attempting to ban entry of persons from seven countries and the recent surge of ICE raids. It is against this backdrop that the agency hopes to lift up the denomination-wide statement on "Welcoming the Migrant to the United States" in the Book of Resolution #3281, adopted by the 2016 General Conference. The statement reads, in part: Regardless of legal status or nationality, we are all connected through Christ to one another. Paul reminds us that when "one part suffers, all the parts suffer" as well (1 Corinthians 12:26). The solidarity we share through Christ eliminates the boundaries and barriers which exclude and isolate. Therefore, the sojourners we are called to love are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters; indeed, they are us.
The General Commission on Religion and Race's mission is to build the capacity of The United Methodist Church to be contextually relevant, reach more people, younger people and more diverse people, and to nurture them as Christ's disciples to transform the world.