With the addition of a last minute emergency resolution, the 2018 Central Texas Annual Conference closed its items of business with a response to the proposed tent cities for migrant children. By voice vote, the delegation overwhelmingly supports the following response:
“Central Texas Annual Conference Response to Proposed Tent Cities for Migrant Children
Whereas The United Methodist Church, in our Social Principles, “recognizes, embraces, and affirms all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God.” And “We urge society to ‘recognize the gifts, contributions and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all.'”
Whereas Holy Scripture in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy call us to love sojourners, as indeed the Israelites were, as ourselves and to work for the redemption of the most vulnerable.
Whereas our UMC Social Principles in The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church state that “Any legislation to reform the US immigration system must affirm the worth, dignity, and inherent value and rights of migrants, and must also include: eliminations of indefinite detention, incarceration of children, and the expanding prison population.”
Whereas Bishop Mike McKee expressed grave concerns in Sunday evening’s worship for the separation of children from parents at our borders
Whereas Bishop Mike Lowry has also called for immigration reform
Whereas the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and other news organizations have just reported a plan to house migrant children, separated from their parents, in tent cities near El Paso.
Therefore, be it resolved that the Central Texas Annual Conference states our opposition to this inhumane treatment of God’s most vulnerable persons – children.
Be it further resolved that the delegates of the Central Texas Annual Conference affirm the value of all persons and support the humane treatment of all vulnerable persons.
Jerrilyn Woodard-Entrekin, Lay Delegate from First United Methodist Church of Arlington”
I am partial to this handwritten, quickly drafted response because I was able to witness youth and young adults discussing its writing before it was presented to the larger body. The author of the response, Jerrilyn Woodard-Entrekin, wrote it during the conference between morning break and lunch, knowing she did not have much time.
Jerrilyn graciously allowed youth leaders to get a preview of the draft, and they discussed the importance of the response with youth over lunch. Appropriately, this timely discussion was over lunch in the back room of World Cup Cafe in Waco, Texas, at a table of Central Texas Youth and young adults. How beautiful is it to consider that these young people were surrounded by a fair trade market full of items that offer dignity and a living wage to people from around the world!
I love that it was discussed as a teachable moment youth and young adults – not the “church of the future,” but the church of the now. I love that it was discussed over a meal in a restaurant that helps develop dignity for “all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God.” I love that the author did not hesitate to do God’s work, but instead submitted a handwritten response quickly photocopied and distributed after lunch.
Let there be no confusion, separating small children from their parents and housing them indefinitely in tent cities/detention centers will traumatize and harm the most vulnerable. As people of faith – as moms and dads, as people of compassion and understanding, as people obligated to offer mercy to the the least, as people who have ever loved children – we have an obligation to speak out for the protection of the most vulnerable.
The Holy Spirit is alive and well in the Church, and I am hopeful for our future. God is good, y’all.
(And now we have work to do.)