A Pastoral Letter from the Ministerial Staff of the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ in Response to the Plight of Central American Children

 

We call the people of the Iowa Conference to prayer and to action.

We commit ourselves and invite you to prayerful remembrance. We prayerfully remember the witness of wanderers and strangers that stirs through our sacred texts. We prayerfully re-call the words of law and voices of prophets through which God insists that the people of God give particular attention to the well-being of the strangers and of the fatherless.   We prayerfully remember the Word that lived in Jesus, a Word that commanded love and directed that love beyond the comfortable and familiar toward new definitions of neighbor and toward far margins of risk and sacrifice. We re-call our story of the child refugee Jesus, carried by his parents to safety in Egypt.

We commit ourselves and invite you to prayerful intercession. For children living in dangers beyond the borders of our imaginations. For parents making excruciating choices.  For those who meet the children at our nation's edge. For the members of the U.S. Border Patrol. For those offering shelter and care. For those raising shouts of fear and hatred. For those who have legal authority to show justice and mercy. For those who have political authority to shape change.

We commit ourselves and invite you to listen with purpose for the voice of the Holy Spirit in the words of Scripture and of news reporting and of public conversation.  We listen attentively for what the Spirit is guiding us, not someone else, to say and do. We listen for the Spirit's summons to speak and to listen in our congregations and communities. We listen for the Spirit's summons to bear witness to those in political authority that the first imperative must be the well-being of the children. They must not be returned to danger.

We commit ourselves and invite you to seek opportunities to offer the radical hospitality and extravagant welcome that are at the heart of our common life in the United Church of Christ, to make room and to support the work of others who are making room.

 

We commit ourselves and invite to you to draw courage from courage. From thousands of children who find the courage to keep walking, we find the courage to keep walking at their sides. We commit ourselves and invite you to boldly and more boldly follow Jesus.

 

Rich Pleva, Jonna Jensen, Brigit Stevens, Laura Arnold, Samantha Houser, Katherine Mulhern

July 21, 2014