Whereas, all persons are made in the image of God and therefore have innate value that cannot be diminished (Gen. 1:26-27), and should be treated with dignity (James 3:9-10); and
Whereas, the command of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to love your neighbor as yourself explicitly transcends ethnicity, nationality, sex, social class, religion, and every division which separates God’s image-bearers from one another (Luke 10:25-37); and
Whereas, the effects of the Fall are so pervasive that sin manifests itself in personal rebellions along with the miseries of corruption in government, unjust economies, religious and political persecution, war and violence, famine, and other circumstances that lead families and individuals to migrate, voluntarily and involuntarily, for their own safety and well-being (Genesis 3:14-19); and
Whereas, our Lord Jesus himself suffered religious and political persecution unjustly from infancy, and was taken by his parents to Egypt to live as a refugee (Matthew 2:13-18), and then returned to Israel only to live hidden away for safety in Galilee far from his birthplace, in the humble and despised community of Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23; John 1:45-46); and
Whereas, some of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and members of our churches, live among us because they were brought here by their immigrant or refugee families, and may be either lawfully residential or undocumented, and some live in fear of being deported from the only home and culture they have known, and live in fear of being separated from their families; and
Whereas, churches in our Presbytery have been directly affected by the current immigration crisis, and members of our churches live in fear of being separated from their families; and
Whereas, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (1 Corinthians 10:17), and Christ has encouraged his church that if one member suffers, all suffer together (1 Corinthians 12:26); and
Whereas, our Lord Jesus will say to the righteous who ask “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.” (Luke 25:37-40); and
Whereas, God, the Supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers (WCF 23.1); and
Whereas, the jurisdiction of Church courts is only ministerial and declarative, and are altogether distinct from the civil magistracy, and have no jurisdiction in political or civil affairs (BCO 11.1 and 11.2); and
Whereas, Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary (WCF 31.4); and
Whereas, the Word of God compels ministers, and other church officers, to proclaim the whole counsel of God (Ac. 20:27);
Therefore be it resolved, that Hills and Plains Presbytery declares that we suffer along with our brothers and sisters who are suffering, and we mourn the brokenness of our world that creates such circumstances.
Be it further resolved, that Hills and Plains Presbytery encourages its sessions and churches to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God (Mic. 6:8), and to let brotherly love continue, not neglecting to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares, and remembering those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body (Hebrews 13:1-3).
Be it further resolved, that Hills and Plains Presbytery reminds its sessions and churches that it is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute or other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience's sake (WCF 23.4), and exhorts sessions and churches to be praying specifically for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1 Timothy 2:2), and for wisdom for our elected leaders in the complex matters concerning immigration and refugees.
Be it further resolved, that Hills and Plains Presbytery explicitly refrains from commending specific legislation to our elected officials, but recognizes that sessions and churches may consider this an extraordinary case, and therefore may encourage elected officials to govern in ways that uphold the God-given dignity of every human being, and may remind our elected officials that they have been placed by God, under him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good (WCF 23.1), and that all nations and rulers are ultimately judged not by their people, but by God Himself (Psalm 2:10-12).
Passed by Hills and Plains Presbytery, October 9, 2018.