The week before Thanksgiving, Faith in Public Life put out a petition regarding the statement by many governors that they would not welcome Syrian refugees. This was a knee-jerk response to the bombing in Paris. I signed the petition and responded affirmatively to a request for clergy to participate in an action at the office of Terry Branstad, who was one of those governors, on Monday, November 23.
That afternoon a couple of dozen of us, overwhelmingly from the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ, read statements disrupting the false, bigoted assumptions about fellow humans fleeing a war zone, and Iowa’s moral obligation to refugees. We then delivered the petition and its over 2,000 signatures.
My statement is here, as well as a video of the event.
My name is Eileen Gebbie. I am the Senior Minister at Ames United Church of Christ. As the child of an immigrant, the niece of an immigrant, and an ordained Christian minister, I urge the elected leaders of our nation to be the moral authority right here at home that America strives to be throughout the world. From escaped slaves to LGBTQ people, the state of Iowa itself has a long and proud history of standing on the side of the oppressed, those who have been dehumanized and feared. We have demonstrated that it is not only our responsibility, but our honor, to welcome and care for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. Let the current Syrian refugee crisis not be an exception. Thank you.