Faith and Immigration: Questions for Reflection

“A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien…” (Deut 26:5)

“You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Ex 23:9)

Concern for aliens is found throughout the Bible, particularly in the Hebrew scripture.  In response to our Biblical duties, The United Church of Christ has demonstrated an interest in immigration and the wellbeing of immigrants. As early as 1981, General Synod 13 issued a Pronouncement, “Justice in Immigration,” which called for refugees and immigrants to be given constitutional and labor rights; declared opposition to sanctions against employers; urged penalties against exploitation; supported the granting of regular legal status to undocumented persons; and called for the church to support immigrants and refugees.

The sacred scriptures of our Judeo-Christian faith are a compendium of migration stories. Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, their homeland. Noah and his family became boat people adrift without a destination. Sarah and Abraham were mandated to migrate and, for generations upon generations, God’s people were nomads. The meta-narrative of the Judaic faith is the story of the exodus and the subsequent migration into, and conquest of, what became known as the ‘promised land’.

The stance of the United Church of Christ to support immigrants may actualize in a variety of actions that individual churches can engage. From education, to advocacy, to direct support of immigrants in your community, we invite you into exploration and discernment of your call to reflect the UCC’s pronouncement on immigrant justice and the biblical themes on immigration.

Discerning a call based on scripture and church tradition should be a reflective exercise for your congregation. We invite you to consider the following bible passages and questions as you dialogue together about your congregation’s engagement with immigration.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Reflect on Leviticus 19:33-34. How do the words of Scripture, the resolutions of General Synod and a critical reading of American history influence our opinion regarding immigration?
  2. Reflect on Corinthians 1:10. What gifts does my congregation offer to welcome immigrants? What challenges does my congregation face when considering welcoming immigrants?
  3. Reflect on Zachariah 7:9-10. How would becoming an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation affect the spiritual growth of my congregation?
  4. Reflect on 2 Corinthians 12:9. Consider a time when you felt empowered. Based on that experience, what would you offer an immigrant to help them achieve empowerment in the United States?
  5. Reflect on Hebrews 13:2. What experiences do you have with cultures or values that are new to you or different from yours? What do you imagine connecting with new or different cultural values to look like?
  6. Reflect on Matthew 5:3. How is welcoming immigrants conducive to actualizing the Kingdom of Heaven?