Episcopal churches issue statement ‘of shared values about immigration and refugees’; encourage others to sign

[Church of the Heavenly Rest] Episcopal clergy are invited to sign a statement “of shared values about immigration and refugees.” More than 50 clergy members have signed as of March 15.

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
A Statement of Shared Values about Immigration & Refugees

Scripture and tradition call us to welcome the immigrant and the stranger.  Abraham and Sarah’s travels in Genesis, including their hospitality to three strangers by the oaks of Mamre, and the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt in the Gospel of Matthew remind us that God protects those who seek safety in foreign lands.  Scripture also calls people of faith to provide refuge:

“The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt”  (Leviticus 19:34).

The undersigned clergy of The Episcopal Church are making a shared statement of values about the presence of immigrants and refugees in our communities.

Our congregations are diverse.  We are high church and low church, big and small, from red states and blue states.  Our parishioners hold points of view across the political spectrum.

We share a common commitment to honor immigrants, refugees, and neighbors from different religions and we are deeply disturbed by the current swell of fear and scapegoating which seeks to criminalize and unfairly deport undocumented immigrants in our communities.

We are a nation of immigrants, and immigrants are important to the future of our country.  They face problems particular to their status but they are deeply connected with our wider communities.  They are long-time friends, neighbors, colleagues, students, service providers– and taxpayers.  Statistics show that immigrants support a growing economy and that the crime rate among immigrants is lower than the general population.

But data is secondary to our unshakable biblical conviction that every person reflects the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity.  In Jesus Christ, there is no “they;” there is only “we.”

Immigration policies are not hypothetical questions for us.  Many of our congregations include immigrants and our ministries work with refugees in our neighborhoods.  Many of our communities have already been raided by immigration officials.  Families are being separated and children left stranded.  Our neighbors have reason to be afraid.

We commit to build relationships with immigrants and refugees in our communities, to know their stories and understand how our congregations can be in solidarity with them.

We stand together to witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ:  those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also (1 John 4:20).

At this moment in our national life, we proclaim: Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

The Rev. David Anderson, St. Luke’s Church, Darien, Connecticut
The Very Rev. Stephen Carlsen, Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, Indiana
The Rev. Matthew Heyd, Church of the Heavenly Rest, New York
The Rev. Julia Whitworth, Trinity Church, Indianapolis, Indiana
The Rev. Neil Alan Willard, Palmer Memorial Church, Houston, Texas

For a full list of signers as of March 15 or to read the statement in Spanish click here.


  1. Beth Veltrop says:

    Amen. I am a proud cradle Episcopalian. Thank you to the leaders of our church for love and reason in a time of irrational bigotry and hate.

  2. Terry Francis says:

    Irrational bigotry and hate? Care to be a little more specific in those accusations Beth?

  3. Martin Forest says:

    “We are a nation of immigrants, and immigrants are important to the future of our country. ”
    We are NOT a nation of immigrants. We are a nation of citizens. Citizens have an expectation of security in THEIR ideals not the ideals of immigrants. A nation cannot exist if there is no expectation that the nation’s cultures and norms will survive. Supplanting this nation’s culture and beliefs with people who will not assimilate does not make a nation. Since the author is quick to use the Bible for his arguments I will say this: Allowing people from all over the world to come here and not assimilate is akin to building a new Babel. God did not intend for us live as separate entities within our own country. “Out of many – One” not the other way around.

    • Tom Bateman says:

      C’mon, are you really going to lay bare your pretentious hypocricy here? The Europeans came to this country and overtook the Native Indians who were the citizens of the lands then. They supplanted the culture and beliefs of the native peoples; they sure as heck didn’t “assimilate.”

  4. Terry Francis says:

    Yes, Europeans did come to this continent and laid siege to the native Americans. Took their lands, murdered their women and children, took away their freedom and made them prisoners on reservations. All true. Bur it’s now the 21th century Tom, and the sins and atrocities of the pass can’t be used as justification for open borders and unlimited immigration. Certainly not illegal unlimited immigration.

  5. Bill Louis says:

    I am speachless at the never ending recklessness of the Episcopal Church when it comes to bringing refugees into our country. One needs only to look overseas to see what is happening in Europe and Scandinavia. There are many more military age men migrating than there are women and children. I suppose it will take riots, closed communities where Sharia law is imposed, abuse of women, crime and every other imaginable evil before the propents of unfettered and virtually unbeatable -vetted immigration realize the mistake they’ve made. By then it will be too late.

  6. Thomas M. Henehan says:

    God bless the clergy who created and signed this document. I am very disappointed that most of the comments so far buy into the hysteria and scapegoating current dividing pur nation.

  7. Bill Louis says:

    I wonder how many of you that are OK with bringing hordes of refugees into our country would be willing to sponsor them in your home and community much like foster caring for a child but without government assistance. Sponsorship means you are legally and finacially responsible to house, feed, educate and provide healthcare for them until they are able to provide for themselves. Would you be so quick to agree to something like that if you would be liable for any crimes they commit too. Lets hear how many of you would sign up for that.

  8. Jawaharlal Prasad says:

    Terry Francis – interesting point that you raise! Does it matter we are in the 21st century? Occasionally, I get lectured on the Original Sin – because Adam sinned and so I was born a sinner. Israelis / China both look at the history of US and wonder why people are upset at their policies vis-à-vis Palestine / Tibet. Sins and atrocities of our forefathers will always haunt us until we change our ways. Perhaps there ought be some structural changes so that countries from where such immigrants come from will not have to leave their birth country for purely economic reasons.

  9. Terry Francis says:

    Thomas Henehan, sorry but I’m a little perplexed at your accusation that people like me who are concerned about the influx of refugees in this country are divisive. Progressives like yourself are always engaged in name-calling in regards to this issue. Beth Veltrop calls us irrational bigots and hatemongers, Tom Bateman called Martin Forrest a hypocrite, while you yourself said such people bought into the scapegoating and the hysteria. And lets not forget others who use such non-judgemental terms as racists, intolerant, and of course THE term that my progressive brothers and sisters love to throw at people who disagree with them on this issue, xenophobic! All this and you accuse US of dividing the country?? Get real!

  10. Lisa Ann Mauro says:

    What about the Rockville High School 18 and 17 yr old I;legal men that Obama allowed in? They were allowed to go to school and they both raped a 14 yr old innocent girl in the rest room at 9 am. several weeks ago. The “main stream” media hid it quite well. What about Kate Steinle who was walking on the San Francisco Pier with her Dad. She was shot and died moments later in her Dad’s arms by an Illegal who was a a violent/drug criminal in and out of the “system”. He admitted he wanted to go to San Fran because he knew it was a SANCTUARY citizen. My denomination is Episcopalian (which I am thinking about strongly now) and I consider myself a Christian. I am appalled at the Illegal Immigration position the Church has taken. How dare anyone in this Church or other think I am not worthy because I do not support Illegals??? Are you all God, because only He can judge. I’m quite sure the Church like many others will lose members and a great deal of donations.

  11. Wm. Van Ness says:

    Just as a side issue to all of this, I wish people wouldn’t keep confusing immigrants and illegal aliens as if they were all the same thing. One group followed the rules to come here openly, while the other group metaphorical snuck in when nobody was looking. Not to say they shouldn’t be received with some compassion, but don’t continually be equating the illegals with the honors due to the majority of legal immigrants who built this country.

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