Welcoming the Outsider

Starting on May 18th, 2023 Wyoming County (along with many other counties in New York) issued a State of Emergency in response to the Mayor of the City of New York expressing plans to bus Migrants arriving in the city to counties outside of the City of New York. The state of emergency states that, 

"No Hotel, Motel, or owner of a multiple dwelling in Wyoming County is permitted to contact or otherwise engage in business with any other municipality other than the County of Wyoming for the purpose of providing housing or accommodations for persons, including but not limited to migrants or asylum seekers, without written approval granted by the county."

To knowingly violate this code could result in up to $2,000/individual per day and count as a class B Misdemeanor.

You may be wondering...
Why is your church talking about this? Isn't this a political/government thing?
In short, because it's also a gospel thing.

As Free Methodists, we believe that seeking Love-Driven Justice is at the heart of what we do and essential to faithful obedience to Christ. That justice is not just for the national, but for the outsider, the refugee, the immigrant or otherwise. Our Book of Discipline describes it beautifully in ΒΆ3221.C ...

"As we minister to all immigrants and refugees, we do so with basic underlying convictions:
  1. We commit to the biblical principle of caring for the foreigners among us regardless of racial or ethnic background, country of origin, or legal status.
  2. We commit to acting redemptively with love rather than fear, and to reach out to meet needs as we see them.
  3. We commit to identifying intolerance and working to end it, as well as ending any personal inclinations to refer to individuals in less than loving terms.
  4. Where there is a conflict, it is our duty to oppose all unjust and harsh laws and to seek to change them.
  5. We commit to responding to this crisis in terms of the Great Commission, seeking to reach the lost whoever they may be; ministering to all, caring for all, and showing God's grace to all people."
Our local government is doing what they think is best when looking at the housing infrastructure in our county. Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, speaking about their State of Emergency said, "it ensures that if migrants need to be housed here, it is done so in a thoughtful way with a reasonable plan in place to protect everyone involved." 
Church, I would argue that this is a moment for us to speak up and make sure these people know that the followers of Jesus in Wyoming County want to help, that our churches want to do whatever we can to show radical hospitality to people fleeing a life of suffering elsewhere.

The state of Emergency says to Asylum seekers "there is no room at the inn" but what if the church were to shout even louder that in fact "there is a place at our table!"
I would like to thank Pastor Barb Mosher for taking the first step on our behalf by writing a letter to the editor of the Country Courier is response to their May 25 report  titled "Wyoming County Declares a State of Emergency" Her letter goes like this...
Why not see an influx of immigrants as an opportunity rather than a disaster?

Why not challenge the area churches to be involved in helping to house the asylum seekers? Most churches have kitchens, dining areas, bathrooms, space where cots or air mattresses could be set up.

Why not contact area farmers to see if they could use help during the summer months? And ask for immigrants to be sent to us who would be willing and able to provide the work.

Why not involve the county bus system to transport the people to and from grocery stores, Walmart etc?

Why not involve students who speak Spanish and other languages to serve as interpreters and teachers for the summer?

Why not involve area merchants in providing needed resources like blankets, clothing, etc?

These immigrants are suffering people in need of help. They deserve our respect and care. "Do unto others".

Aren't we, the community and churches of Wyoming County big enough to step up and serve the need?
Why not indeed Pastor Barb!

I am beginning to reach out to local refugee communities and local officials to understand how we can help. Let's be kindly, yet firmly vocal about our concern over how our attempts to help are being threatened by policy and punishment. Our work and responsibility as disciples is to seek the well being of our community which includes the foreigners among us. Holy Spirit give us wisdom to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
If you would like to contrubite to discussions on how we can help, then don't hesitate to email me at ryan@valleychapel.org or join us briefly after worship on Sunday June 11th for a brainstorming session.

Ryan Rovito

1 Comment

anne herod - June 8th, 2023 at 3:46pm

Contact Anna Ireland Mongo of Jerico Road in Buffalo. She is retired pasotor Rick Irelands daughter and involved with immigrants for at least a decade.