Brothers and Sisters of The United Methodist Church,
Grace and peace to you in the compassionate name of our Lord Christ Jesus.
I write to you on behalf of our Council of Bishops to invite you to observe Global Migration Sunday on December 3, 2017. This is the first Sunday of the season of Advent, a time when we remember the coming birth of the Christ Child who was himself a migrant.
From Asia through Europe and Africa to the Americas, the plight of the over 65 million men, women and children forced to leave their homes and migrate to places unknown calls all Christians to remember what God requires of us.
Wars, natural disasters, persecution, economic hardships, and growing violence around the world are the major root causes of the unprecedented global migration we see today with grave concern. As if these deadly forces were not enough, migrants also face myriad problems as they migrate including hazardous travel, cultural barriers and the physical and emotional costs of arriving in strange lands where they are not always welcome and often persecuted.
For most of these migrants, the decision to flee their homeland comes as a last resort effort to live. We are reminded of Joseph and Mary as they sought to save their lives and especially the life of the Christ Child by fleeing to Africa to escape the wrath of King Herod who felt threatened by the birth of Jesus and ordered the massacre of the children (Matthew 2:13-14).
As United Methodists, we believe that the prayers of God’s people can cause the outpouring of God’s mercy and justice. As your bishops, it is our fervent hope that on Global Migration Sunday on December 3, United Methodist congregations in all the places where we serve around the world would join our voices to pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering on the journey of forced migration on the face of the earth. In addition, as a people who pray and act upon those prayers, we ask that all our congregations also gather an offering to be dedicated to responding to the human suffering inflicted by forced migration. Offerings collected should be sent to the Migration Advance No. 3022144.
We are grateful for our general agencies who have prepared excellent resources for Global Migration Sunday including the Prayer that we would ask we all pray on December 3rd. These resources can be found in English, Arabic, French and Spanish at umcmigration.org.
Jesus said, “When you welcome the sojourner, you welcome me.” (Matthew 25:35).
Let us welcome our migrant brothers and sisters with compassionate care, pray for them without ceasing, and give generously that they too may have life.
Grace and peace
Bishop Bruce R. Ough
President, Council of Bishops