By Natasha Lindstrom, Trib Total Media.
Alarmed by calls to keep Muslim refugees out of America, a Presbyterian body representing 145 congregations across Western Pennsylvania issued a statement in support of welcoming Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn homeland.
“What we are wanting to say is that our Christian faith leads us to welcome the stranger,” said the Rev. Sheldon Sorge, general minister of the North Side-based Pittsburgh Presbytery. “That is unqualified and unconditional, and to the extent that we’re being asked not to do that, we betray our faith.”
Nearly 200 people voted unanimously to support and promote the one-page statement during last week’s quarterly meeting of the Pittsburgh Presbytery at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. It invokes words etched on the Statue of Liberty and emphasizes that Jesus “himself was a refugee very soon after his birth.”
“We modern-day followers of Jesus struggle with making sense of the enormous reality of international refugees,” the statement read. “There are currently over 60 million displaced human beings. Four million have fled from Syria, and 6.5 million are displaced there internally.”
The Presbyterian group represents leaders serving more than 30,000 churchgoers in Allegheny County.
Pittsburgh Presbytery’s A Declaration on Welcoming Refugees