Dear United Methodist friends in Christ,
Grace and peace are with us even as we experience the arrest of Samuel Oliver-Bruno who has lived in protective sanctuary of City Well United Methodist Church in Durham, NC.
A group of approximately 26 persons in Samuel’s family, church family, and community family are detained as a result of their Christian witness. I have urged repeatedly the intervention of our United States Senators, offering as rationale the health needs of Samuel’s wife and the lack of any urgency for this action.
The humanitarian crisis relating to immigration is neither distant nor removed from our shared life. The Biblical story is a story of God’s mercy and grace upon people in motion, people endangered, people called to cross boundaries. In our own time, we are summoned to live the Biblical story in our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness.
We remind ourselves, as United Methodist people, what our Social Principles state: “We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God.” Further, “We oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or that include detention of families with children, and we call on local churches to be in ministry with immigrant families.” (Book of Discipline, Social Principles ¶162)
Across our varied political perspectives, on this day let us pray for the grace and mercy of Christ for all people, in all places, in all situations. Let us pray specifically for Samuel Oliver-Bruno and his family, for those advocating for him, for our nation in relation to the world around us, and for those with whom we have strong disagreement.
As a child, I was helped to memorize the 100th Psalm, a song of thanksgiving. As we celebrate the Reign of Christ on Sunday, it becomes a fresh prayer:
We pray that all the earth might know the reign of God.
We pray for abundant life for all people in all places.
In humility, we acknowledge: God made us, not we ourselves.
We are God’s people, the sheep of God’s pasture.
Therefore, we give thanks and bless God
with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our witness.
We pray for grace that you may live in us and through us
in this time and always. Amen.
With gratitude for your witness for Christ in every place,
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward