ORDER OF DEACONS
By Will Jones*
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
-Matthew 25:35b (CEB)
The Order of Deacons and Bishop Tracy S. Malone invite and encourage the pastors, congregations, and faith communities of the East Ohio Conference to join them in participating in the inaugural EOC Migration Sunday on January 6, 2019 by preaching and teaching that day about the social justice issue of migration.
“A Deacon’s call to Word, service, compassion and justice means appointments are often beyond the local church where we serve in a variety of specialized ministries. In our vocations, Deacons are bridge builders between the church and the world,” said the Rev. Beverly Wrobel, chair of the EOC Order of Deacons and associate pastor of Mentor UMC (Western Reserve District). “Deacons also focus on social holiness, bringing the needs of the world – like migration – back to the church.”
The importance of welcoming the strangers among us was at the heart of the Council of Bishops’ challenge in 2017 to recognize Global Migration Sunday. The Order of Deacons of the East Ohio Conference felt the need, heard the challenge, and answered God’s call. Deacons met with the EOC office of Multicultural Vitality and the Board of Church and Society to discuss ways our Conference could engage in ministry with migrant communities. They then shared their passion and vision with Bishop Malone.
“There are 65 million people displaced in the world today. More than 21 million people have been granted official refugee status by the United Nations. I celebrate the Order of Deacon’s commitment to provide leadership and to collaborate with others in planning a Migration Sunday to provide an opportunity to pray about the global migration crisis and to encourage pastors and congregations to discern ways to be in ministry with migrant communities,” Malone said.
The United Methodist Church has a strong history of advocating for the rights of migrants and supporting those who seek to establish new homes in new lands. Since a number of resolutions in The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church challenge us to be in ministry with migrants, East Ohio Migration Sunday provides an opportunity to learn, be in meaningful discernment, and call attention to migration. Exodus 22:21 reminds us, “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt (NIV).” We all have a responsibility to respond according to the guidance of scripture and of our United Methodist values, and not according to our personal biases or preconceived notions.
Migration Sunday highlights the value of our connectional ministry as United Methodists. The Order of Deacons, the EOC office of Multicultural Vitality, the Conference Board of Church and Society, and young clergy from the North Coast District who created liturgy for Migration Sunday that will be made available December 10, came together at the intersection of their innate passions and willing hearts to create another opportunity for all of us to share Christ’s love with, and transform the lives of, those in need.
*Will Jones is director of Multicultural Vitality for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Rev. Beverly Wrobel
Order of Deacons, Chair
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