UAFA Memorial calling for comprehensive immigration reform that includes the families of LGBT people passed by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly

Bp Hanson

ReconcilingWorks thanks all who worked so hard to bring this memorial resolution before their synod assembly for passage.

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) memorial, submitted to the churchwide assembly by the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana, Eastern Washington-Idaho, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, Southwestern Texas, Saint Paul Area, Oregon, Florida-Bahamas, Sierra Pacific, Northwest Washington, Southwest California, Minneapolis Area, Central States, Metropolitan New York, Northwestern Minnesota, Upstate New York, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Southwestern Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Washington, D.C., and Indiana-Kentucky synods, was passed by the assembly without being called out of en bloc by the assembly for debate, meaning it was endorsed by the assembly without debate.

Assembly Action

To receive with gratitude the memorials of the …. synods related to the Uniting American Families Act;

To affirm the Uniting American Families Act or its equivalent in the Congress of the United States;

To request the presiding bishop of this church to communicate to the president and members of Congress the action of the 2013 Churchwide Assembly; and

To encourage rostered leaders and members of congregations in this church, if consistent with their individual bound consciences, to support the Uniting American Families Act, or its equivalent, to their elected representatives and encourage them to co-sponsor and to support a just, comprehensive reform of U. S. immigration law that includes the principles of the Uniting American Families Act.

The Memorials Committee had this to say to the assembly regarding the ELCA background on this matter: 

“The ELCA has a long-standing commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, including an ELCA social message on “Immigration” (1998), augmented in 2009, when the Church Coucil adopted a social policy resolution, “Toward Compassionate, Just, and Wise Immigration Reform.”

“Family unity has been a key component of advocacy in this church for immigration reform. “Toward Compassionate, Just, and Wise Immigration Reform” (2009) social policy resolution states:

This church urges the United States government to prioritize family reunification. Many refugee and immigrant families, including “mixed families” (families composed of United States citizens, often children, and/or legal permanent residents), are separated with no viable means of timely reunification. This church calls for Congress and the executive branch of government to address statutory and administrative factors and the lack of humanitarian waivers that contribute to barriers and backlogs separating families and the systematic marginalization of human beings. The ELCA also advocates for the welcome and care of unaccompanied children who have lost or are separated from their families. It again calls for “flexible and humane ways for undocumented [individuals] who have been in this country for a specified amount of time to be able to adjust their legal status.” They should be permitted to come out of the shadows and have immediate family members join them on a path to earned legalization.

“Given the 2009 Churchwide Assembly decisions recognizing people in lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships, these memorials appear consistent with those commitments.

The ELCA social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (2009) states:

“. . . this church is united on many critical issues. It opposes all forms of verbal or physical harassment and assault based on sexual orientation. It supports legislation and policies to protect civil rights and to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, and public services. It has called upon congregations and members to welcome, care for, and support same-gender couples and their families and to advocate for their legal protection.”

“These memorials also recognize and respect the “bound conscience” understanding of the 2009 ELCA social statement on human sexuality which acknowledges that this church is not of one mind on these issues.

“We believe that the memorials are consistent with these commitments and should be supported.”