March 2024
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Recently, there has been an intensity of dehumanizing language and a militarizing of border areas over the complex and demanding situation along the border in Texas. We recognize the efforts of many of our first responders, migrant shelters, and advocacy centers as noble and express our deep appreciation for engaging in this important and sacred work. Yet, we offer this open letter to stress the need for religious institutions of all faiths to freely continue in ministries that encompass acts of mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable in our communities, including migrants, without the risk of retribution by authorities.

It is our sacred duty as Christians and United Methodists to follow the teachings of Jesus when it comes to ministries of mercy and compassion. Jesus said in gospel of Matthew, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” We seek to honor this teaching in the best traditions of the Church Universal. We seek to serve all humanity to honor God.

We support migrant shelters and ministries offering food and shelter and dignity in many places from the Annunciation House in El Paso, TX to the Good Neighbor Settlement House in Brownsville, TX. We support our Catholic friends and other leaders of faith. We stand in solidarity with the statement from the Conference of Catholic Bishops: “We must especially preserve the freedom of Catholics and other people of faith to assist their communities and meet migrants’ basic human needs.” The United Methodist Church has a long history of supporting and funding migrant refugee centers on the border. Some of these Christian migrant refugee centers are well over 100 years old and have been providing humanitarian assistance long before the divisive politics of our modern times.

We call on Christians and United Methodists to continue in the sacred work of providing food and shelter and dignity to the most vulnerable in our midst.

We call on government institutions to work in harmony with us towards ending this crisis along the border in a way that reflects the best traditions of our country.

We call upon leaders to cease dehumanizing rhetoric that fans the flames of prejudice and racism.

Robert Schnase
Bishop of the New Mexico and Rio Texas Conferences of The United Methodist Church