‘Our mandate is clear’

December 09, 2014

By Dr. Arthur McClanahan*
“Our mandate is pretty clear,” said Bishop Julius Trimble of the Iowa Conference, “when it comes to loving and welcoming the migrant, the stranger, our neighbor.”  That assessment came following days when "we heard stories of hope and incredible resilience.”
Bishop Trimble offered his reflections while sitting in the airport in Stuttgart Germany following the Global Migration Consultation that brought together some forty persons from around the world for the four day gathering.  “We met with persons who had seen a significant portion of their population be part of the migrant workers who travel throughout places in the world to provide their professional services in other countries,” he reported.

Click here to listen to the interview with Bishop Trimble
“It’s a prelude to the kind of conversations that will be taking place more and more,” the Bishop noted.  He suggested, “Migration is going to impact all the world.  It will impact the ways in which we go about doing ministry in The United Methodist Church.”
Noting that Iowa and the churches of the Iowa Conference has already seen “new immigrant communities,” Bishop Trimble said, “we experienced (migrant communities) on a global scale as “we heard stories from those seeking asylum, those who fit into the category of refugees, those who work with migrant workers, those who engage in the ministry of bringing hope amidst the pandemic of human trafficking.”
Several of the presentations at the Consultation, that brought together nearly forth people from across the world, presented demographic and statistical information.  “I think that one of the first statistics that we heard was that there are about 232 million migrants,” he observed. “That population number would be the fifth largest country in the world.”  The Bishop went on to describe the impact that it had on him, personally.  “It was relatively meaningless until we all began to hear people describe themselves as migrants.”
One of the stories that had the greatest Bishop Trimble came from from fellow Bishop Felipe de Jesus Ruiz.  “Part of the focus in the discussion we had was around ministries of mercy and sharing, as well as ministries of justice.  Bishop Felipe Ruiz told about how the government questioned the role of the church.”  Remembering Bishop Ruiz’s words, Bishop Trimble  added, “He told the government ‘to then take care of the problem, and if not, then the church will do its part.’”  Bishop Trimble went on to say, “I think it is a role for both the church and certainly a role for our government as it relates to migrants.”
There is a clear directive for people of faith.  “The theological perspective for us,” Bishop Trimble suggested” is from the very basis of ‘What does it men for us to welcome our neighbors and welcome the stranger,” he asked.  Ultimately, he noted, “We were all, at one point, migrants.  Indeed, Jesus, himself, was one!”
*Rev. Dr. Arthur McClanahan is Director of Communications for the Iowa Conference, The United Methodist Church