Dear Friends of the West Virginia Conference,
May God bless you richly as we begin this Advent season! Advent is historically a time for hope in the Church; a time when people look forward to new life and new birth. This year, the first Sunday in Advent, December 3, 2017, is Global Migration Sunday. There are 65 million displaced people in the world today that are looking for hope and a new life. “Human migration is as old as human history. Individuals, families, tribes, and nations have been on the move since the days of Abraham and Sarah and before … Today, migration is a critical international and at times a pressing national issue; a matter of last resort and no other choice for millions of human beings.” (2016 Book of Resolutions, #6028). So, in these days of waiting, anticipation, and hope, it is appropriate that we begin this Advent season with a day of prayer to raise awareness in relation to this humanitarian crisis and a special offering to help migrants and refugees.
The Church is the Body of Christ for the world today and the plight of men, women, and children who are forced to leave their homes and migrate to unfamiliar and unknown places calls those of us who are followers of Christ to remember what the Lord requires of us. What is this requirement? To seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.
United Methodists believe in the power of prayer to bring about change and transformation. The prayers of the faithful can bring about an outpouring of God’s love, justice, and mercy. On this first Sunday of Advent, I am asking you to join United Methodist congregations around the world in prayer for our brothers and sisters who are suffering on the journey of forced migration in various places around the world. Excellent resources for Global Migration Sunday can be found at https://umcmigration.org.
In addition to prayer, I am also inviting you to action by taking an offering to be dedicated to responding to the human suffering inflicted by forced migration. Offerings collected may be sent to the Migration Advance #3022144, or sent to the West Virginia Conference Treasurer’s office. Churches please make checks payable to: Conference Treasurer clearly marked for Migration Fund #351 and send along with your completed remittance form to:
PO Box 2469,
Charleston, WV 25329
On this first Sunday in Advent, let us remember that Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child were once migrants as they fled for their lives, leaving their homeland behind when King Herod ordered the massacre of the children. (Matthew 2: 13 – 14). What would have happened if they had not found compassionate and caring people as they entered a new land and a new culture?
Later in his life, Jesus said, “When you welcome the sojourner, you welcome me.” (Matthew 25:35). The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” May we be inspired by these biblical reminders to pray, to lead, and to participate in welcoming and supporting migrants across the world.
Sandra Steiner Ball
Resident Bishop, West Virginia Conference