Methodists to sponsor Syrian families in Kansas, Nebraska

A woman wearing a thermal blanket holds her child on a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos shortly after crossing the Aegean sea on a dinghy from the Turkey's coast with other refugees and migrants on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW/AP) — The United Methodist Church in Kansas and Nebraska says 35 congregations are willing to sponsor at least one Syrian refugee family.

Bishop Scott J. Jones, leader of the church in the two states, announced Friday that the number of participating congregations could increase in the future. He points out the United Methodist Church has long played a role in welcoming immigrants to America.

“Our job as the Christian Church is to let our willingness to participate to be widely known and to urge our elective leaders to be as hospitable as the possibly can,” Jones said.

Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) issued an executive order Monday prohibiting state agencies and organizations receiving state money from relocating Syrian refugees in the state.

“I think all of our leaders who have taken a position in saying ‘no refugees at all’ need to temper their views and need to reach an appropriate agreement of what is an appropriate vetting and security system and to find a way to make sure the refugees are able to come,” said Bishop Jones.

For many people in northeast Kansas, the issue of accepting refugees from the war-torn nation pits concerns over security against a desire to help people displaced by years of violence.

“I’d feel very safe if they left them over there and worked on the issues we have here instead of trying to bring the issues from there to here when we have enough going on,” said Jonnell Johnson-Bug, who lives in Topeka.

Fellow Topekan Jordan Milholland says he understands other peoples fears about the refugees, adding I also understand that we have been welcoming refugees in the past, especially after the Vietnam war and WWII. So, I think it’s really our duty to humanity to accept people who are fleeing from repressive governments.”

For Bishop Jones, the church's stance could help our security in the long run.

“In winning this fight, hospitality to our enemies is going to be our best weapon,” he said