A letter to PA Lutherans from Bishop Bornowski of Ansbach-Wuerzburg in Germany
A delegation from Kirchenkreis Ansbach-Wuerzburg of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, visited with Upper Susquehanna Synod, their companion synod, in June. The photo at left is of their visit to the capitol in Harrisburg, where some lawmakers had been arguing against refugee resettlement efforts in Pa. Asked what we as Lutheran advocates could do to accompany them in their ministry with the millions of migrants in their land, Bishop Gisela Bornowski (center) replied with the following letter:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
From June 16-22, 2016 we — a delegation from the Kirchenkreis Ansbach-Wuerzburg of the ELCB under the leadership of the Regional Bishop Gisela Bornowski — were invited to visit our companion synod, the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA. We are very grateful for the experience of fellowship and the mutual exchange. Especially, we are grateful that during a workshop at the annual synod assembly in Selinsgrove people were interested in getting more information about the role of the church in dealing with the refugee crisis in Europe. Later, we were asked to share what we thought ELCA could do in supporting us in the case of the refugee crisis.
This question we take as an encouragement to share with you some ideas.
- First of all do not forget us in your prayers. Many people in our congregations are ready to help and to support refugees. Please pray that they get the strength to continue in their ministry. That they may learn to deal with the challenges of integration and culture clash.
- Let us remind our governments of their responsibility and encourage churches to support international refugee relief programs through UNHCR or ACTAlliance (Action of Churches Together) that in the case of the war in Syria people who live in camps in neighboring countries like Jordan and Lebanon will receive the necessary support.
- Let us join hands and fight the root causes of migration and becoming a refugee. Let us encourage our governments to help to end civil wars and work for political stability. Let us change our western lifestyle that we do not live on expense of the rest of the world anymore. Climate change for instance will be besides political instability one of the main causes for migration. Fighting the root causes for migration is not a short term task but must be on our priority list for the next decades.
- As churches we should continue to support our partner churches in conflict areas to do their ministry effectively. This is also a contribution to create more stability.
- As churches we do not claim to have the answers for complex problems. Sometimes we can go only small steps. Often, they might only be symbolic. But these steps still make a difference and can become an encouragement for others to change.
- As we live from the overwhelming love of God in Christ we should not accept the building up of boundaries of humanity in our respective countries.
What this means in detail in the context of the USA you yourself will know. But we are very grateful that you take into consideration what we share with you.
May God bless your ministry for His people and the whole world!
Bishop Gisela Bornowski
Kirchenkreis Ansbach-Wuerzburg, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria