By Derek Penwell
On December 8th, 2015 over 60 Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, and Christian faith leaders from across the Louisville Metro area gathered together at Kentucky Refugee Ministries for a press conference. Clare Rutz and I gathered with them to proclaim our support for the welcome of Syrian refugees.
We issued a Position Statement, which over 175 faith leaders have now signed (see below). The joining together of so many voices concerned to welcome the stranger and protect the most vulnerable is an exciting thing for our church and our city.
LOUISVILLE (Dec. 2, 2015) Faith leaders from across the Metro Louisville Community, whose religious traditions contain explicit teachings about welcoming the stranger, and who collectively have decades of positive experience with the refugee community, wish to express our solidarity and pledge our support for those fleeing war and brutality—particularly, those seeking to escape the conflict in Syria. That being the case, we recognize as a moral imperative the continued need to welcome refugees. And though we acknowledge the anxiety present in our culture, as people of faith we resolve not to live in fear.
Therefore, we announce our intention to continue raising awareness of the plight of Syrian refugees by the means available to us not as potential threats to be feared, but as sisters and brothers deserving of our compassion and protection.
We also announce our intention to encourage our separate faith communities to work together to provide the financial and material support necessary to the local agencies whose priority of care extends to the refugee community.
In addition, we call upon our neighbors and fellow citizens to join us in demonstrating compassion and hospitality to refugees, and upon our civic leaders to support such demonstrations of compassion and hospitality.
Without question, much of what binds us together as representatives of various religious communities is our shared commitment to advocating on behalf of those who are most vulnerable. Such a commitment expresses not only the most profound aspects of our faith traditions, but also our conviction that faith itself can bind us together in our common humanity, motivating us to pursue justice and peace for all God’s children.