God’s call to neighborly love for the sake of those in need is unequivocal. Migrants and refugees are our neighbors. Exodus 22:21 – “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” and Romans 12:13 – “…Extend hospitality to strangers…” are two of many exhortations to care for sojourners in Scripture.

The June 2017 Northeast Iowa Synod Assembly adopted a resolution “Responding to the plight of Immigrants and Refugees.”

This action invites congregations to implement the ELCA churchwide AMMPARO—Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities—strategy in ways that fit their own contexts.

For example, congregations can

  • pray for migrant children and their families as they escape violence and economic uncertainty.
  • advocate for just and humane policies towards migrant children and families on the state and national level.
  • accompany migrant children and families living in our communities, those being held in detention, and those at risk of deportation
  • register as an AMMPARO Welcoming Congregation. In addition to committing to the actions listed above, a Welcoming Congregation identifies a member of the congregation with a working knowledge of Spanish to offer welcome to guests. This person refers guests to medical, legal and pastoral resources.

Good Shepherd Lutheran in Decorah is one of 55 registered AMMPARO congregations across the ELCA.

How to get involved:

Join the “NE Iowa Synod AMMPARO Network” group on Facebook to gather information, and connect with other congregations exploring ways to respond to the growing immigration and refugee crisis.

Come learn more about the synod’s AMMPARO network at the “Fall Leadership Event” on Saturday morning, 9/16 at St. Paul’s Lutheran in Waverly. Register by September 8.

Find more information on the synod website.

Learn more about the AMMPARO strategy online: www.elca.org/AMMPARO.

Contact the synod’s AMMPARO network coordinator, Paul Edison-Swift, at edisonswift@hotmail.com or 563-277-7421, for information about becoming an AMMPARO Welcoming Congregation.

Paul Edison-Swift

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.




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