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The 952 voting members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly approved a memorial that would call ELCA members to advocate for the adoption of comprehensive immigration reform consistent with an ELCA message on immigration and guidance from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services based in Baltimore.
ELCA members call for legislation that would provide an earned pathway to lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants and their families; ensure the humane and just enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, specifically by reducing the use of immigration detention and expanding the use of community support programs for immigrants who do not need to be detained; protect families from separation; provide resources and protections to ensure the successful integration of refugees, asylees, survivors of torture and trafficking, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable migrants; and to ensure the protection of U.S. citizens and migrant workers. Legislation should provide a reasonable path to citizenship for undocumented individuals currently living and working in the United States.
The memorial also asks that rostered leaders of this church promote an understanding of immigration issues in their preaching and teaching that would welcome and promote concern for the vulnerable, and to call “believers to foster the highest possible level of moral discourse in church and society. Congregations are called to engage in prayer and reasoned discussion and education on issues related to immigration; to communicate with U.S. elected officials to develop and pass such comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the current session and to call on the ELCA presiding bishop of this church to continue to communicate to members of Congress the ELCA’s position on immigration reform.
Voting members also voted to declare Sunday, June 22, 2014 as Refugee Sunday.
Memorials are proposals from the ELCA’s 65 synods.
The ELCA triennial meeting was held in Pittsburgh August 12-17 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The assembly is the highest legislative body of the denomination.