St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church
of Boston, MA

Message from Fr. Timothy

A new political machine is revving up across the land.  Many things are up for grabs, health care, public education, trade, the judiciary and even the very environment in which we live to mention just a few.  The plight of documented and undocumented immigrants and refugees has become an ongoing saga.  Our parish is no stranger to this concern and in my years at St. George I have experienced how this issue affects people whom we love.  Just before Christmas, one of our families was reunited after years of separation and uncertainty living in refugee camps. 

                Most of us know someone who faced or is facing this dilemma.  Many, maybe most, of the immigrants we know from the Middle East entered the country after the normal vetting process.  Some came here as visitors or more often as students.  They discovered a welcoming community; they saw opportunities that did not exist anywhere else and they stayed on.  They studied, they worked, they paid taxes, they raised families, they contributed to society by offering their service of time and talent and they established themselves as respected members of the community.  They are our brothers and sisters, they are integral members of our family. 

                The Statue of Liberty, that Mother of Exiles who welcomed our grandparents still cries out, “Give me your tired,  your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

                Now there’s talk of walls, drones, military patrols, searches, arrest, detention and deportation.  The language is often replete with sentiments that are obviously antitheses of that race, religion or group.  Unfortunately, people from the Middle East become the obvious targets of this misguided and misdirected fervor.   

Not since the struggle for civil rights have we been so challenged to move a major social issue beyond paralysis and fear toward a just and humane resolution. Comprehensive immigration reform is about ending a nightmare for millions of immigrants and those who love them. It is about bringing them out of the shadows of society.                                                                                  

                The Antiochian Orthodox Church, with its deep ties to immigrant peoples, often fleeing persecution, should be in the forefront of promoting immigration policy reform that is morally correct, socially urgent and economically sound.  We should quickly identify and join with other religious and humanitarian groups that peruse the same just cause.  As we listen to the debate around us, we can take pride that St. George parish has never ignored the plight of immigrants, with or without documents.  The Eucharist we celebrate and give thanks for reminds us that there can be no stranger, no border and no closed door in a Christ centered community.  The Gospel warns us that ‘eternal life’ is reserved for those who feed the hungry, visit the sick and welcome the stranger indiscriminately. Advocating for humane immigration reform, and supporting politicians who advocate for it, makes it evident that what we say and do in the Divine Liturgy is directly linked to what happens in our hearts, our society and at our borders.  I will be watching this debate closely and doing my best to promote the most humane response possible for this growing social dilemma.   

                                               

Blessings, Fr. Timothy

 

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St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church | V. Rev. Fr. Timothy Ferguson, Pastor
55 Emmonsdale Road P.O.Box 320164 | West Roxbury, MA 02132
(o) 617.323.0323 | (f) 617.323.6301 | email us | map