From Arkansas Pastors and Ministry Leaders

A STATEMENT OF UNITY

December 18, 2017

PREAMBLE As pastors and ministry leaders in Arkansas, we desire to communicate our grief over the end of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and the lowering of refugee admissions levels during a global refugee crisis. These nationalist and isolationist actions  go against the better angels of our nature. Walling out immigrants and refugees is not consistent with Kingdom assurance of security in Jesus, and placates the more racist and xenophobic elements of our communities.  Arkansas has been a significant location in America’s dark history of racism and exclusion, and of this we repent, seeking a heart transformation in our community, nation, and world.  As Christian leaders in this region, we declare, with a unified voice, that the gospel of Jesus Christ speaks clearly in this moment. In light of this, the undersigned pastors and ministry leaders of Arkansas announce the following as one voice.

WE AFFIRM that in new community in Christ, all people and nations are beloved and welcomed into the community of God. We affirm that the variety of human cultures on earth is a beautiful expression of God's love for all persons, in all their diversity. We affirm that Jesus Christ’s mission, to which he was faithful, even to being crucified on a cross and resurrected on the third day, not only extended to humankind the gift of eternal life, but also shattered every division—social, political, economic, or racial—which would separate us. Not only that, but God’s saving work included especially a covenant with a migrant people, the Israelites, and came with a reminder to “not wrong a resident alien, for you were once aliens in Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).   We affirm that the church is called to be a community that remembers we were once aliens, and seeks the good of all immigrants and refugees in every place, in anticipation of God’s coming Kingdom.

WE REJECT the ideologies of isolationism and nationalism, including and especially Islamophobia, as a denunciation of the gospel, ideas not in harmony with traditional Christianity. Such ideologies call to mind phyletism, the conflation between nation/ethnicity and church/religion, and these ideas war against God’s design for human culture and creation. We reject the notion that immigrants pose a threat to our economy and way of life. We reject any ideology that conflates protecting our national security with welcoming refugees. We reject the efforts to place the good of one religious group or one nation above the good of all, for God desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

WE RESOLVE to preach, teach, and advocate against the sins of oppressing the immigrants and sojourners in our midst, and excluding the millions of refugees abroad  in need of refuge. We resolve to lead in the way of love, and to seek ways to heal the fears and policies that kill the dream and exclude those seeking refuge among us. We resolve to listen to the undocumented, those whose status is currently insecure (including previously DACAmented young people), and refugees, both here and abroad. We resolve to stand in solidarity with those who have been wounded by our xenophobic fears and false nationalist ideologies. We resolve to pray fervently for God’s healing and reconciliation. We resolve to help our churches become more hospitable and welcoming communities to diverse people, sanctuaries for all.

Finally, we resolve to pursue Jesus Christ’s perfect standard of equality, justice, and love in our churches, region, state, and country.

 

Rev. Dr. Clint Schnekloth
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Fayetteville

Rev. Jody Farrell
Genesis Church--a Central United Methodist Faith Community, Fayetteville

Pastor Mike McDaniel
Grace Point Church, Bentonville

Rev. John M. Connell
St. Raphael Catholic Church, Springdale
St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tontitown

Rev. Jason M. Tyler
St. Joseph Catholic Church, Fayetteville

Mireya Reith, Founding Executive Director
Arkansas United Community Coalition, Fayetteville

Mike Rusch, CEO
Pure Charity, Bentonville

Rev. Sara Pair
Sequoyah United Methodist Church, Fayetteville

Pastor Darrel Harvey
Bread and Wine NWA, Bentonville

Rev. Sara Milford
All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Bentonville

Rev. Dr. Leslie Belden
Temporary Stated Clerk, Presbytery of Arkansas

Rev. Shane Pair
Oakley Chapel United Methodist Church, Rogers

Jerad Sears, Executive Director
Narrative Network, Bentonville

Rev. Ronny Nowell
First Christian Church (DOC), Rogers

Magaly Licolli
Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center, Springdale

Rev. Jess Schload, CEO
Mount Sequoyah Center, Fayetteville

Bishop Michael Girlinghouse
Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Tulsa

Emily Crane Linn, Executive Director
Canopy Northwest Arkansas, Fayetteville

Rev. Victor H. Nixon
United Methodist Church, Little Rock

Rev. Wendell Griffen
New Millennium Church, Little Rock

Chaplain Resident Megan Pike
University of Arkansas Medical School, Little Rock

Rev. Marion Humphrey
Allison Memorial Presbyterian Church, Little Rock

Rev. Dr. Candace Barron
Gardner Memorial/Amboy United Methodist Church, North Little Rock

Fr. Paul Moore
Client Focused Counseling, Fayetteville

Rev. Canon John Slavin
St. Gabriel's Anglican Church, Springdale

Rev. Melissa Ehrhardt
Peace Lutheran Church, Rogers

Rev. Velda Bell
Salem UMC, Salem

Rev. Steve Evans
St. Luke Lutheran Church, Fort Smith

Pastor Mary Beth Kovanen
Community of Joy Lutheran Church, Hot Springs Village

Rev. Kara Shaw
Peace Lutheran Church, Edgemont

Rev. Frank LeBlanc
Westover Hills Presbyterian Church, Little Rock

Rev. Joshua Johnson
Faith Lutheran Church, Little Rock

Rev. Suzanne Stoner
St. Paul's Episcopal, Fayetteville

Rev. Kate Alexander
Christ Episcopal Church, Little Rock

Rev. Betty Grace McCollum
Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia

Rev. Stephen Copley
Faith Voices Arkansas, Little Rock

Rev. Jeanne Wiliams
First United Methodist Church, Bella Vista

Rev. Jason Smith
Alliance of Baptists, Arkadelphia

Ms. Ruth Shepherd
Chair Social Justice Advocacy Committee, Second Presbyterian Church, Little Rock

Rev. Dr. Gordon Garlington III (Retired)
Presbyterian Church (USA), North Little Rock

Rev. Danny Schieffler
St. Mark's Episcopal, Little Rock

Rev. Patricia Matthews
St. Mark's Episcopal, Little Rock

Rev. Dr. Fred Nelson
United Lutheran Church, Bella Vista

Reverend Roy Beth Kelley
Atkins and Bell’s Chapel United Methodist Churches, Atkins

Rev. Patti Butler
Christ of the Hills UMC, Hot Springs Village

Rev. Canon Dr. Dennis Campbell
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Fayetteville

Pastor Ulysses Washington
Theressa Hoover Memorial UMC, Little Rock

Rev. Dr. Harris G. Sonnenberg
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Fayetteville

Rev. Patti Butler
Christ of the Hills UMC, Hot Springs Village

Rev. Lisa Hlass
St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Little Rock

John Coffin
Little Rock Friends Meeting (Quaker), Little Rock

Reverend Marie Mainard O'Connell
Second Presbyterian Church, Little Rock

Rev. Mark Snodgrass
Bentonville Community Church of the Nazarene, Bentonville

Rev. Carl D. Palmer
Central United Methodist Church, Fayetteville

Rev. Greg Gibson
Central United Methodist Church, Fayetteville

Rev. Don Morrow
First Christian Church & WaterWay, Bentonville

Rev. Beck Rodriguez
Rogers Primera, Church of the Nazarene, Rogers

Rev. Chuck Lauver
River Valley Nazarene, Fort Smith

Father Fred Ball
San Damiano Ecumenical Catholic Church, Little Rock

Rev. Joanna Seibert MD
Deacon-St. Mark's Episcopal Episcopal Church, Little Rock

 

John Ray
Abide Collective, Fayetteville

Rev. Robb Ryerse
Vintage Fellowship, Fayetteville

Rev. Vanessa Ryerse
Vintage Fellowship, Fayetteville

Rev. Lowell Grisham
St. Paul’s Episcopal, Fayetteville

Rev. Dr. Michael Mattox
First United Methodist Church, Rogers Historic District

Rev. Gary Baird
Grace Episcopal Church, Siloam Springs

Samantha Haycock, Chaplain
St. Martin’s University Center, Fayetteville

Rev. Terry Gosnell
Trinity United Methodist Church, Fayetteville

Rev. Pam Morgan
St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Springdale

Rev. Dr. Philip Butin
First United Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville

Rev. Harris Sonnenberg
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Fayetteville

Rev. Craig Gavin
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Siloam Springs

Rev. Shawn Wallace
First Christian Church, Rogers

Rev. Mark Williams
Spirit of Peace NWA, Fayetteville

Rev. Roy Lenington
Spirit of Peace NWA, Fayetteville

Rev. Cody Robertson
First Christian Church and Waterway, Bentonville

Rev. Dian Williams
Compassion Fayetteville

Seth Haines
Author, Coming Clean

Dr. Preston Clegg
Second Baptist Church, Little Rock

Rev. Britt Skarda
Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, Little Rock

Minister Chad Jones
Arkansas Progressive Christians, Conway

Rev. Zachary Crow
New Millennium Church, Little Rock

Rev. Carolyn Staley
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of AR, Little Rock

Dr. Randy Hyde
Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, Little Rock

Rev. Donald Wester
Faith United Church of Christ, Conway-Little Rock

Rev. J.J. Whitney
Hendrix College, Conway

Brother David Cook
Church Of Christ, Shirley

Pastor Lynne O'Shea
Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Mountain

Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Holland
St. Clare's Anglican Chapel, Fayetteville

Reverend Haley Jones
First United Methodist Church, Little Rock

Reverend David Freeman
First United Methodist Church, Little Rock

Pastor Kurt Kovanen
Christ Lutheran Church, Hot Springs Village

Rev. Dr. Ryan Pfeiffer
First Christian Church, Fayetteville

Rev. Betsy Singleton Snyder
Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, Little Rock

Rev. Belinda Price
Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, Little Rock

Rev. Karen Fowler-Lindemulder
United Lutheran, Bella Vista

Pastor Dean Fodness
United Lutheran Church, Bella Vista

Pastor Donald Hippe
United Lutheran Church, Bella Vista

Rev. Katie Goss Pearce
First United Methodist Church, Morrilton

Rev. Jay Clark
Pulaski Heights United Methodist, Little Rock

Rev. Erin Kaye
First Presbyterian Church, Camden

Rev. C.B. Baker
St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Hot Springs

Rev. Anika T. Whitfield
Neighbors that Love, Little Rock

Rev. Elizabeth Gabbard
First Presbyterian Church, Arkadelphia

Rev. Lynn Kilbourne
North Little Rock First United Methodist Church, North Little Rock

Rev. Gail Brooks
First United Methodist Church, Russellville

Rev. Melanie Tubbs
Augusta and Bald Knob United Methodist Church, Augusta

Pastor Alicia Finch-McCastlain
Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church, Alexander

Rev. Mike Lager
St. John's Episcopal Church, Fort Smith

Rev. Guillermo Castillo
All Saints’ Episcopal Church,, Bentonville

Rev. Steve Hancock
Second Presbyterian Church, Little Rock

The Rev. Ed Wills
St Michael's Episcopal Church, Little Rock

Rev. David LeSieur
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Rogers

Rev. Joyce Hardy
Christ Episcopal Church, Little Rock

Sister Rosalie Ruesewald, OSB
St. Scholastica Monastery, Fort Smith, AR

Sister Elise Forst
St. Scholastica Monastery, Fort Smith, AR

Sister Rachel Diez
St. Scholastica Monastery, Fort Smith, AR

Rev. Jim Benfer
Dardanelle First United Methodist Church, Dardanelle

Pastor BJ Keeter
Church of the Nazarene, Van Buren

Pastor Amanda Aristondo
Bentonville Iglesia del Nazareno, Bentonville

Deacon Shannon Johnson
Faith Lutheran Church, Little Rock

Reverend Maxine Allen
United Methodist Church, Little Rock, AR

 

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