When I’m driving down an interstate highway and see a sign that says “Welcome to Virginia” (or any other state) … I must confess that I don’t feel particularly understood, accepted, embraced, or empowered as I cross that border. Do you?
“Welcome” has become a word emblazoned on signs and doormats. We hear it at a new job and when we walk in to Home Depot. We feel compelled to say it to someone who is “new” or whom we have not met before at school or at church. But “welcome” is not living up to its potential in our nation, our communities, and our lives. It’s time for us to redefine welcome, to deepen and broaden our understanding of true welcome, and to be a faithful practitioner of a welcome that is sustained.
This blog is one way for us to talk about welcome, think about welcome, and explore actions that can transform our communities into places of welcome for migrants and refugees.
Last week I led a class of seminarians in a discussion of faith in action with refugees and migrants, changing demographics in America, and what this means for ministry in local congregations. We spoke about three key ways to build awareness and engagement that lead to understanding and action for welcome to newcomers: faces, facts, and faithfulness.
- The human faces of migration are so very important. When we meet our newest neighbors, know their names and discover their stories, we begin to make a social connection that changes lives.
- Speaking the truth out of love means knowing the facts about immigrants and overcoming myths that are harmful.
- Faithfulness to our Christian calling means we delight in the opportunity to consider where the Bible is leading us today, in our communities and in our churches. The clear messages to “welcome the stranger” and “love your neighbor” are an open invitation to put faith into action with refugees and migrants.
In what ways are you learning about and experiencing real welcome, making meaningful connections with newcomers, and helping to transform communities into places where there is a deep sense of belonging?
Image credit: WingChi