Bethel UCC declares itself immigrant welcome church

Bethel Congregational United Church of Christ in White Salmon voted at its Jan. 28 annual meeting to declare itself an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation. With a long history as a welcoming congregation, this vote is the first step for church members to commit themselves to education, relationship building and advocacy, and to accompany those caught up in our nation’s immigration system, according to Church Pastor Rev. Kelly Ryan, in press release.

“Over the past year or more, we have heard from our friends and neighbors in the immigrant community that many feel particularly afraid, alone, and subject to hostility,” Ryan said. “The U.S. immigration system, as it is right now, does not work for real people, real families, and the realities of our economic system. Bethel recognizes this crisis and sees it as our call as people of faith to respond. What affects some of us in our community affects all of us.”

Here is the text of Bethel’s Immigrant Welcoming Declaration:

“Jesus welcomed everyone and excluded no one. In that same spirit, we strive to do the same.

As members and friends of Bethel Congregational Church, we are called to do justice and love kindness. In these days, we are moved by our faith and consciences to stand together with our immigrant brothers and sisters and their families. This requires that we build relationships across barriers, educate ourselves, advocate for human rights and accompany immigrants in times of need.

Therefore, we declare ourselves an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation and commit to the following:

• Deepen the connection between immigrant and nonimmigrant members and families within Bethel Congregational Church and throughout the broader community.

• Educate ourselves and our community about immigration-related issues.

• Advocate for a fair and humane immigration system.

• Accompany and support immigrants and their families, at their request, when facing immigration-related hearings and meetings or seeking change in their immigration status.”

Said Bethel’s moderator, Pam Tindall, “We’ve been studying these issues and talking together for months about how to respond. I’m proud of Bethel for stepping up and speaking out. It matters.”

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