Minnesota Council of Churches, 122 Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55404, www.mnchurches.org

For immediate release

MINNESOTA’S FAITH COMMUNITY EMBRACES REFUGEES

IN RESPONSE TO TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDER

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – (January 30, 2017) – We are called to welcome the stranger, love all our neighbors, and stand with the vulnerable, regardless of their religion.  We pray that compassion for the plight of refugees will touch our hearts.  We urge all Minnesotans and particularly people of faith to be bold in supporting moral, just policies that provide refuge for vulnerable individuals seeking protection.

That was the call to action voiced today by Minnesota faith leaders gathered in a church where the congregation is currently sponsoring an Eritrean family who recently arrived in Minnesota through the work of the Minnesota Council of Churches Refugee Services.

“As Christian leaders, we are called by our Scripture and God to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner,” said Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) CEO Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin.  “Today we stand our ground against executive action curtailing refugee resettlement in the midst of another global crisis.”

United Methodist Bishop Bruce Ough said, “Refugees arrive among us not only with their need, but also bearing gifts of energy, resourcefulness, and fundamental hope that may contribute to the renewal of the society and the church.  It is not Christ’s call on the church for a just society to abandon strangers who are at risk of violent harm but to partner with them in finding hope.”

“Our shared religious values compel us to welcome the stranger into our midst,” said Imam Asad Zaman, executive director, Muslim American Society of Minnesota.  “We are a nation of immigrants and refugees.  From pizza to the sambusa, from Google to the iPhone, we have benefitted greatly from the immigrants and refugees who have blessed us with their presence.”

Carl Nelson, president and CEO of Transform Minnesota, continued saying, “As evangelical Christians we will stand with refugees. The world changes but the Church’s calling doesn’t. Rather than cowering in fear derived from false facts about refugees, let’s act boldly with faith in eternal truth.”

Rev. Canon Michael Pipkin, speaking on behalf of Episcopal Bishop Brian Prior, said the Bishop would “continue to support our faith communities in the work they do alongside other denominations and organizations to provide respite and future hope for those who have been the recipients of the worst injustice that this world has to offer.” He concluded that he would “call our leaders in government to policies that promote fairness and justice for all.”

Chemberlin went further, “This Executive Order entitled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States is a misstep, built on misplaced fear.  The Cato Institute says the chances of being killed by a refugee from one of the seven countries listed in the Executive Order is 1 in 6.4 billion per year.

“We must confess that there have been times when we have been so afraid of our neighbor that we have teetered on the precipice of violating our deeply held faith values.  We will not give in to that temptation, rather we will listen to the voice of God calling us to deep compassion.

“In a time when hard actions and sharp words have been directed at our Muslim neighbors, we pledge to walk with them and support their freedom to practice their religion.

“Call your elected representatives, legislators, and other political leaders.   Ask them to oppose the Executive Order that thoughtlessly and haphazardly disrupts the efforts of the people of the United States to offer safety and welcome to refugees in need.”

About the Minnesota Council of Churches www.mnchurches.org:  MCC represents up to 1 million Christians in Minnesota in the following denominations: African Methodist Episcopal Church, American Baptist Churches USA, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of God in Christ, Church of the Brethren, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Mennonite Church, Moravian Church, National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, National Baptist Convention, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church.

The Minnesota Council of Churches’ mission is to manifest unity in the church and to build the common good in the world. Its programs align with three broad categories: welcoming refugees, mobilizing the faith community to engage in public policy, and strengthening communities through relationships and understanding.

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Contact:  Jerad Morey, Program and Communications Director, MCC, 612-230-3211, cell 507-403-0070, j.morey@mnchurches.org

Ginger Sisco, Sisco Public Relations, 763-544-0629, cell 612-581-4272, ginger.sisco@tela.com

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