In response to the Executive Order signed by President Donald Trump on Friday, January 27, communities of faith across the country responded with concern for the effects of the change in policy. In Minnesota, an interfaith group of leaders gathered on Monday, January 30, at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis to express solidarity. Almost all faith groups represented have social service agencies involved in refugee resettlement.
Bishop Ann Svennungsen of the Minneapolis Area Synod was one of the featured speakers. The text of her statement is below, as well as a list of the other participants in the press conference and their affiliations.
Yesterday, we heard the story of a mother resettled here by Lutheran Social Service – a woman who gave birth in a Uganda refugee camp after her refugee case was approved. Because the newborn wasn’t part of the approved case, the mother had to leave her newborn with a friend – being assured that she could file for her child’s immigration once she got to Minnesota. It’s been four years since the request was made. Finally, it was approved. Her daughter was to leave today for the U.S. – something now in jeopardy because of the Executive Order.
The world faces the largest refugee crisis since World War II. There are some 60 million displaced persons in our world. The Lutheran church has a long history of both helping refugees and working for fair and generous immigration policies.
We believe the calling of government is to serve the common good. Our country has a calling to welcome our fair share of refugees – persons who have a well-founded fear of being persecuted – and to welcome them to the U.S. without discrimination based on race, religion, or national origin. Friday’s executive order explicitly discriminated – closing the doors to any refugee from 7 nations.
No, our government has not specifically banned refugees on the basis of religion, but we seem to be treading awfully close. As we seek to be faithful today, it is wise to remember the words of another Lutheran in a country where there was official discrimination on the basis of religion – the religion of Judaism. In critiquing the German government, Bonhoeffer said, “We are not simply to bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
May God grant us the wisdom to be moral leaders and courageous citizens in our day.
- Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin, CEO, Minnesota Council of Churches
- Bishop Bruce Ough, Bishop, United methodist Church, MN (and Dakotas) Conference and President, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church
- Bishop Ann Svennungsen, Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Minneapolis Area Synod
- Rev. Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister, United Church of Christ, MN Conference
- [Bishop Andrew Cozzens, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis]
- Carl Nelson, President of Transform Minnesota and Executive Board Member of NAE (National Association of Evangelicals)
- Rev. Canon Michael Pipkin, Missioner for Missional Management, Episcopal Church in Minnesota
- Father Erich Rutten, Archbishop, Archdiocesan Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
- Rabbi Morris J. Allen, Beth Jacob Congregation; Minnesota Rabbinical Association
- Imam Hassan Mohamud, Imam, Islamic Dawah Center in St. Paul, MN
- Imam Abdisalam Adam, Imam, Islamic Civic Society of America; Dar Al Hijrah Mosque
- Imam Asad Zaman, Executive Director, Muslim American Society of Minnesota