Heart-breaking refugee crisis

I am not big on signing petitions, but there are two that may advance more important work.

Watching Syrian refugees stream into Europe has been heart-breaking.

It is clear that the United States must respond with leadership. The U.S. has only resettled 1,517 Syrian refugees since the beginning of the conflict. We can do much better.

The United States needs to do better than the paltry number of refugees accepted so far. We can easily welcome 100,000. We are 14,000 names short of getting the president's attention! So, again, if you agree, sign this petition and get every person you know to sign as well.

It is clear that the United States must respond with leadership.

Countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan are hosting millions of Syrian refugees. The United States can and should resettle at least 100,000 Syrian refugees, plus increase our total resettlement commitment from 70,000 to 100,000 refugees from all parts of the world.

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of the United Methodist Church in Germany asked for our prayers to as this situation intensifies. She said United Methodists in Germany work very closely with ecumenical partners and are part of ‘Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe’ and other ecumenical institutions as well as United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

“Many churches have opened their apartments even before the refugees were in the daily news,” the bishop said. “Others are considering to do this in these days. I cannot speak for Methodists in other countries, but we have several meetings of European Methodists in these days and we have already started the conversation with Jack Amick, [UMCOR assistant general secretary, International Disaster Response]. And, of course, we will let you know our needs as soon as they arise.

“Please continue to pray for us as we pray for you all – the total number of refugees here in Germany is still very low in comparison with the neighborhood countries of Syria, Turkey and other places.”

Sign the petition

Here is what YOU and your congregation can do:

Sign this petition now. Demand the United States increase the resettlement of Syrian refugees! We need 100,000 signatures before Sept. 30 to require a response from President Obama.

Please spread this petition far and wide!

Also, call the White House at (202) 456-1111 and use this script:

“Hi, my name is . As a United Methodist, I urge President Obama to increase refugee resettlement from 70,000 to 100,000 this coming year, and accept an additional 100,000 Syrian refugees. We cannot ignore this humanitarian crisis.”

Share on social media

Lastly, share this alert on social media! Here are some sample tweets:

  • Sign the petition to demand the U.S. do more in response to the Syrian #refugee crisis! http://1.usa.gov/1L6zh9l #WelcomeWorld.
  • The U.S. can do more to resettle Syrian #refugees. Sign the petition today if you agree! #WelcomeWorld http://1.usa.gov/1L6zh9l
  • .

Let's not watch this humanitarian crisis without acting. Let's do all we can right now to ensure safety for Syrian refugees!

We fool ourselves sometimes into thinking that we are doing important work by simply signing petitions. But I really think we can move forward the issues of Syrian refugees and anti-immigrant rhetoric by signing and recruiting other people to sign these particular petitions.

Shake my head in disbelief

Also, I shake my head in disbelief when I watch the news and hear people aspire to be U.S. president by denigrating and dehumanizing immigrants. It has to stop, but it won't unless we make ourselves heard loud and clear. If you agree, sign this petition and get every person you know to sign as well.

And let's work to make our congregations welcoming places for all people. There is so much work to do — important work to do. Signing petitions is such a small piece. But take a minute, sign both of these and urge every person you know to do the same. Maybe in doing so, we can see our congregations become more hospitable in the process.

Editor's note: Bill Mefford directs the Civil & Human Rights work area at the General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church.

Letter to the Editor