The Rev. Chris Mietlowski Comments on EAD

April 20, 2010

While sitting at the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service booth on the last morning of Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington DC  (EAD) I had the pleasure of meeting The Rev. Chris Mietlowski of Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church in New York City. His connection with immigration advocacy was evident and strong, as he is personally  involved in the lives of newcomers within his congregation. Pastor Mietlowski is a friend of LIRS, and his church building provides space for the office of an LIRS field coordinator. The week after EAD, as I was writing an article about the event, I sent an email to Pastor Mietlowski asking him to comment on the weekend’s activities. In return I received absolutely beautiful comments about the EAD gathering on migration. Without further ado, I would love to share it with you.

“My name is Rev. Chris Mietlowski, pastor of Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, an historic congregation in the heart of Manhattan.  This parish began in 1865 by Swedish Immigrants and has developed into one of the most diverse congregations in the ELCA. 

I was invited to attend the Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference in Washington, DC on March 19-22 by our Bishop, Robert Rimbo.  We have been deeply involved with a church family embroiled in a potential deportation situation.  The congregation has rallied to provide prayer and financial support.  We have signed petitions, written letters and made calls to our state senators.  We have helped with rent, food and legal representation.  We also held a prayer service for this family.  A few of us visited with the family member who was arrested and held in the detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  He was suddenly released about 2 months later, much to the surprise of his attorney, family and the congregation.  His appeal is pending.  We know other families living with the potential of being torn apart at any moment. 

The conference turned out to be one of the most remarkable conferences I had ever attended.  It was inspirational, well organized and provided a tremendous amount of useable information on immigration reform.  All the speakers were dynamic.  Some were trained communication experts/immigration advocates helping the conference attendees be better prepared in meeting with elected officials.  Other speakers told stories of their own lives or those they serve who have suffered terribly because of a broken immigration system in the U.S.  A tremendous spirit of cooperation and unity bound conference participants who truly expressed a holy compassion for the voiceless undocumented who live unsettled each day.  I provided copies of all the materials to the Bishop and his chief of staff.

I was particularly proud of the strong presence by the ELCA among many church groups at the conference and in particular Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.  Immigration is such a critical problem in our nation and congregations.  I was thrilled to meet a number of thoughtful, energized, and passionate staff working for L.I.R.S.  When I returned to my congregation to report my experience, I made sure to remind us all that our regular giving to the church supports remarkable church-wide ministries like L.I.R.S.”

May the Lord continue to bless, inspire, and strengthen the work we share as we offer holy hospitality to all of God’s beloved children.”

Rev. Christopher Mietlowski, pastor

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