Syrian Refugees Are Welcome in Ohio!
After the horrific attacks in Paris, we find ourselves once again mourning the loss of lives due to violence. As a congregation that is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) with its strong connectionalism and ecumenical relationships all over the world, we mourn the many deaths, not only in Paris, but also in Beirut, Baghdad, and Egypt.
It is with shock, that in the aftermath of the Paris attack, a number of Governors have announced that they want to stop their states from resettling Syrian refugees, with some members of Congress introducing legislation that would stop refugee resettlement altogether. Moved by our faith in Jesus Christ and motivated by our history as a church that deeply desires to build a lasting culture of peace, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Wooster Ohio, sees itself as a sanctuary for refugees from Syria and elsewhere. As a community of faith, we are appalled that Ohio’s governor and presidential hopeful, John Kasich, would declare Ohio an unwelcome state for the displaced and distressed fleeing war and violence. In this light, Westminster's Session has unanimously approved our church's welcome to Syrian Refugees as an expression of our Christian faith and shared values in the United States of America.
November 19, 2015
Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
United States State Department
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
The congregation of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Wooster, Ohio, Congregation in Residence on the campus of the College of Wooster, sees itself as a sanctuary and hereby volunteers to welcome up to three refugee families from Syria or elsewhere to help them settle into our community. We are confident we could find more sponsors within our community if needed.
We make this offer to express our Christian duty to care for the stranger in need and to help the least of these, our siblings. We hope you will give us the opportunity to help those in need.
We respect and appreciate the pursuit of national security by our country, but find the dehumanization of Muslims in general morally reprehensible. Islamophobia is a sin, and therefore we will welcome any family, including Muslims.
As a community of faith, we are appalled that Ohio’s governor and presidential hopeful would declare our state unwelcoming to the displaced and distressed. That declaration is not true to American or Christian values. We want you to know that there are people in Ohio who welcome the opportunity to care for refugees as an expression of our Christian faith and our shared values in the United States of America.
Andries Coetzee, Pastor
cc: Governor John Kasich
State Representative Ron Amstutz
Congressman Jim Renacci
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Rob Portman
Westminster’s action is not in isolation as our denomination the Presbyterian Church (USA) calls us to Choose welcome, not fear in a statement released on November 17, 2015 by the Stated Clerk, The Rev. Gradye Parsons, Office of the General Assembly, The Presbyterian Church (USA).
For more information on this action, contact the Rev. Andries Coetzee at 330-263-2398.
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