Across our country, many organizations and leaders are working towards policies that treat immigrants and newcomers with respect. To keep you up-to-date, I’m excited to bring you interviews with leaders in this area. I hope their knowledge and experiences can educate and inspire your efforts. Today, I’m pleased to bring you an email interview with Ted Goins, President and CEO of Lutheran Services Carolinas. LIRS Media Relations Specialist Clarissa Perkins carried out the interview.
Join Ted Goins in fighting for fair and compassionate immigration reform and welcoming state policies! Beyond this interview, you can learn the latest about immigration reform legislation or take action.
Clarissa Perkins (CP): How did you first become interested in migrants and refugees?
Ted Goins (TG): Growing up as a preacher’s kid, some of my earliest memories are of families and Lutheran churches sponsoring refugee families. In early adulthood, our church seemed to continually sponsor families from Liberia. My wife Cheryl and I became very involved with the Hispanic community in Hickory in the early 1990s as the Hispanic population was booming. We practically adopted two young brothers from Mexico. They joined our church, we helped with homework, coached soccer, etc. When Lutheran Services for the Aging and Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas came together to create Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC), I found myself at the heart of immigration and refugee issues. LSC resettles about 300 refugees a year in the Carolinas and provides services to about 500 other refugee families.
CP: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) North Carolina Synod Assembly recently passed a resolution supporting comprehensive immigration reform. How did that come about?
TD: A draft resolution in support of immigration reform was being circulated to synods around the ELCA. Three other people and I signed on as sponsors to get the resolution before the North Carolina Synod Assembly. The synod adopted the resolution overwhelmingly. Bishop Leonard Bolick shared that he is excited to be able to share this action with North Carolina’s congressional delegation and the public.
CP: Is there the same amount of support for comprehensive immigration reform in the South Carolina Synod? Do you expect a similar resolution to pass in the SC Synod Assembly?
TD: No resolution was submitted to the South Carolina (SC) Lutheran Synod Assembly. Since the immigration debate will likely be concluded before next year, the resolution probably won’t be considered by the SC Assembly. Bishop Herman Yoos has been an active supporter of immigration reform and has visited a number of the SC congressional delegations in Washington, D.C. Lutheran Services Carolinas couldn’t ask for better partners than Bishop Yoos and Bishop Bolick!
CP: Why do you think it’s important for Lutherans, in particular, to stand up for compassionate and humane immigration reform?
TD: I can go Old Testament or New Testament on you! The Old Testament tells each of us to care for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in our land. In the New Testament, Jesus gives us the Great Commandment: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. There is no doubt in my mind about what God wants us to do. This is in part why Lutheran Services Carolinas’ mission statement is: “Empowered by Christ, we walk together with all we serve.” Through Christ we walk with the stranger, widow, and orphan! In today’s language, we walk with those who need us most!
CP: How do you suggest we foster a stronger spirit of welcome in the Carolinas?
TD: Listen to God and get educated! We need to discern what God would have us do as far as being welcoming is concerned. Also, it helps to get educated, to seek understanding about the big world and the people who live in it. When we begin to understand people and get to know them, it’s hard to shut the door in their face. Was that Christ at my door?