At the recent Church of God International General Assembly in Orlando, Florida, the General Council passed a resolution addressing contemporary concerns about immigration in the United States. The resolution was ratified by the General Assembly on Friday, July 27, 2012 and is now part of the official standing of the denomination on the issue.
This is the second time the Church of God has adopted a position on immigration, the first coming out of the General Assembly of 1990. Resolutions play a key role in defining how the Church of God addresses cultural and moral issues. When questions arise about contemporary topics not specifically addressed within the Declaration of Faith or Practical and Doctrinal Commitments, it is possible a resolution passed at a previous General Assembly will have addressed the issue.
The resolution, simply titled, “Immigration,” was one of eight resolutions passed at the 2012 General Assembly. The full text of the item is as follows:
WHEREAS, the church’s interaction and dialogue with the laws and policies of the nations of the world must be founded on the Word of the Lord, and the earliest
Scriptures reveal that every human being is created in the image and likeness of
God (Genesis 1:26, 27; 5:1); and,
WHEREAS, Abraham, Sarah, and the patriarchs “sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country” (Hebrews 11:9); “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v. 13); and “when they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people, God permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, saying, ‘Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm’” (Psalm 105:13-15, NKJV); and,
WHEREAS, when Joseph was sold into a foreign country as a slave, God himself providentially directed so that: “The king sent and released him, the ruler of the people let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions, to bind his princes at his pleasure, and teach his elders wisdom” (Psalm 105:20-22, NKJV); and,
WHEREAS, when God led His people of Israel out of Egypt, He specifically instructed them: that they were never to forget that they had been strangers in Egypt (Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33, 34); that God “loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing”; and said to His redeemed children, “Therefore love the stranger” (Deuteronomy 10:18, 19); and,
WHEREAS, the Word of truth reveals that the deliverance of the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt was a foreshadowing of the redemption of believers today out of the bondage of sin (1 Corinthians 10:1-11); and,
WHEREAS, the family of Jesus sought sanctuary in the foreign nation of Egypt when Herod determined to kill the child who was born to be the Christ (Matthew 2), and Jesus revealed that He will judge His brothers and sisters by his words, “I was a stranger, and you took me in,” and, “inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:35, 40);
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Church of God reaffirms its commitment to the following principles of a just process for immigration: “that immigrants be treated with respect and mercy by churches; that governments develop structures that safeguard and monitor national borders with efficiency and respect for human dignity; that governments establish more functional legal mechanisms for the annual entry of a reasonable number of immigrant workers and families; that governments recognize the central importance of the family in society by reconsidering the number and categories of visas available for family reunification; that governments establish a sound, equitable process toward earned legal status for currently undocumented immigrants; that governments legislate fair labor and civil laws for all; and that immigration enforcement be conducted in ways that recognize the importance of due process of law” (from Memo on “Immigration Concerns,” April 30, 2010).
Resolutions have been adopted at previous General Assemblies for the last 50 years. They are available for viewing on the Church of God website.