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Christian Reformed Church Statement on U.S. Refugee Admissions

August 31, 2018

The Trump administration is proposing to drastically cut the number of refugees the U.S. will allow into the country in the coming year from a ceiling set by the Obama administration of 110,000 in 2017 to 45,000 for 2018. This could mean many things, including shutting down agencies that help organizations such as the Christian Reformed Church in North America reach out to those thousands of our brothers and sisters who are desperately seeking to find a new home.

Here is a statement from CRCNA leaders calling attention to the situation, asking for prayer and advocating for action on behalf of those displaced people who are unable to speak for themselves.

As leaders of denominational ministries and institutions of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, we identify the proposed drastic cuts to the refugee resettlement program in the U.S. as a critical moment for the voice of the church. We ask that the Trump Administration impose no further cuts to the Refugee Resettlement Program, and instead increase the number of refugees the U.S. will resettle in the upcoming year.

Caring for refugees is a central issue of our faith, rooted in Scripture. We are commanded to welcome the stranger (Deut 10:19, Lev 19:34, Ex 23:9), to love our neighbor (Mk 12:31), to seek justice (Micah 6:8), and to come alongside the vulnerable (Psalm 82:3). We are called to hospitality both in order to give of our resources, and also to receive blessings (Heb 13:2). We are told that the presence of our Savior, Jesus, can be hidden the face of the stranger. (Matt 25:35).

The CRC has long been a church eager to welcome refugees. And in fact, many members of our churches came as refugees themselves. Synod was particularly clear about the CRC’s commitment to refugee and immigrants in 2010, resolving that “God’s Word consistently directs the people of God to be welcoming toward the strangers in their midst and to extend special care to those most vulnerable to social or economic conditions that threaten their ability to survive.” It also called members of the church to advocate with government representatives for just policies, saying “...citizenship in the kingdom of God obligates believers to the highest law of love for God and neighbor above all, and the exercise of this love should lead believers to advocate for laws that will mandate the just and humane treatment of immigrant peoples.”

Many of our congregations, in both the United States and Canada, have experienced the blessing that comes with walking alongside a newly arrived family. As refugees have put their roots down, they have brought vitality to our churches and strength to our communities. These relationships are a glimpse of God’s love alive in the world; standing with refugees has become a fundamental part of the CRCNA’s calling.

We are grieved by that which stands in the way of our church’s calling, in particular, these further cuts to refugee resettlement.

  • We are deeply concerned about an emerging pattern of U.S. policies which are harming immigrant communities — for example, revoking legal pathways to immigration, restricting the definition of asylum, cutting refugee admissions and more.
  • We lament the thousands of vulnerable citizens who will remain in refugee camps for far too long, exposed to further violence and trauma, because of these reductions.
  • We grieve that this may impact the policies of other nations. After decades of receiving upwards of 75,000-100,000 refugees, this cut in the U.S. threatens to lead other countries to follow suit.

In addition to asking the Administration to restore a robust refugee resettlement program, we also encourage:

  • CRC Members in the U.S. to call on our representatives in Congress to stand against this cut, which does not reflect our values. Take action here.
  • All CRC congregations to pray for the U.S. administration and leaders in the U.S. Congress, as well as the refugees around the world who are so gravely impacted by the decisions that those in power make. A suggested prayer can be found here.

In the midst of the largest global refugee crisis in memory, we stand as leaders of a church that is committed to welcome, openness, and hospitality. We cannot remain silent when policies are enacted which hinder the pursuit of this calling.

Steven Timmermans
Executive Director

Colin Watson, Sr.
Director of Ministries and Administration

Reginald Smith
Director of the Office of Race Relations & Office of Social Justice

Carol Bremer-Bennett
Director of World Renew

Mark Stephenson
Director of Disability Concerns

Gary J. Bekker
Director of TLTI   

Bonnie Nicholas
Director of Safe Church Ministry

Zachary King
Director of Resonate Global Mission

Syd Hielema
Faith Formation Team Leader

Joyce Borger
Director of Worship Ministries

Sarah Roelofs
Director of Chaplaincy and Care Ministry

Kurt Selles
Director of Back to God Ministries International