More migrants expected

Immigration Task Force meeting, Sept. 26-27, United Methodist Building

The Immigration Task Force, from various United Methodist agencies, met in Washington D.C., with Bishop Minerva Carcaño Sept. 26-27 to discuss current immigration and refugee situations. (Photo by Gustavo Vasquez, UMNS)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (UMNS) — Representatives from various United Methodist agencies met Sept. 26-27 at the United Methodist Building here to share information about what is being done regarding the immigration crisis in Europe and in the United States.

The Immigration Task Force … gathered representatives from seven United Methodist general church groups.

The Immigration Task Force, led by Bishop Minerva Carcaño, gathered representatives from seven United Methodist general church groups: Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Board of Church & Society, United Methodist Women, United Methodist Communications, MARCHA (Hispanic Caucus) and Middle Eastern Caucus.

Each organization presented a report about what they are doing on different aspects of the migration problem in Europe and the United States.

European working group formed

Carcaño, episcopal leader of the California-Pacific Conference, shared a message from Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of the Germany Area, reporting that the European Methodist Council created a European working group of Methodists who seek to respond to the needs of refugees and migrants. In addition, the Germany Conference’s mission board established a fund offering monetary support to congregations providing aid to refugees.

All the facts in the Middle East and in Africa prove that even more people will come.

“All the facts in the Middle East and in Africa prove that even more people will come,” Wenner said. “We have to prepare ourselves for a new reality.”

The Rev. Jorge Luiz Domingues, an executive with the General Board of Global Ministries, said the agency is encouraging the denomination to participate in Mediterranean Hope, a project of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI) financed with funds from Waldensian and Methodist Churches.

“We know that the task is not only to meet the basic needs of the immigrants who come, but to also minister in all aspects of their lives such as education, pastoral care, emotional support and housing,” Domingues said.

Crisis not new

Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda, leader of the episcopal area of Eastern Congo, was also at the meeting and recalled that the immigration crisis in Europe is not new.

"Nations like Burundi, for example, have seen its population decimated," the bishop said, adding that many villages are running out of people. “Young men are the work force and they are migrating. This is deepening poverty in this country and other countries in Africa.”

The bishop emphasized the importance of The United Methodist Church joining the effort to improve local conditions to reduce immigration. "Education and trainings for work can be strategies to reduce the need for young people to migrate," he said.

2 key areas

The task force is prepared to continue working on two key areas. At the Asia-Africa-Europe migratory corridor, it will work with churches and European organizations to expand relief and the development of ministries for spiritual and social care for migrants.

On the Central America-Mexico-United States migratory corridor, the task force will monitor the situation of children and young immigrants in the U.S. territory. It will expand programs and cooperation with churches, governments and agencies in Latin America.

The task force will also continue demanding comprehensive immigration reform, calling for the suspension of deportation and detention for immigration reasons.

Finally, the task force prepared a petition on migration for the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore.

Editor's note: Gustavo Vasquez is director of Hispanic/Latino Communications at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn. He is a member of the Interagency Immigration Task Force.

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