The following letter to the editor was sent to the Oxford Observer on Friday morning from a group of leaders in the Oxford faith community. Lawrence Bartel, pastor of Oxford Presbyterian Church, said the religious leaders were moved to write it after becoming aware of what they perceived as prejudicial comments directed in person and online to international students at Miami in relation to the coronavirus.
“We knew we were called to respond with kindness and welcome,” Bartel said
To Our Neighbors – International Students at Miami University,
We believe that life is a gift freely given to every person in every nation.
With the recent news of the coronavirus grabbing headlines around the world, we are reminded that good health is also a gift. Our hearts break at the fear and anxiety caused by the uncertainty around how little we know about this disease. We care for all whose lives have been touched by this disease – particularly family members and loved ones directly impacted.
We believe that your presence is a gift. We welcome you and look forward to the ways you will enhance our community this semester whether you are a new or returning student. We admire and praise your courage to study far from your first home. We seek to learn from you and share our hospitality with you. We stand in solidarity with you during this time of fear and anxiety swirling around a little-known disease.
Thank you for choosing to study at Miami University. Thank you for joining us to live in this community. We invite you to consider Oxford your home as well.
Pastor Lawrence Bartel, Oxford Presbyterian Church
Associate Pastor Marc van Bulck, Oxford Presbyterian Church
Rector Sara Palmer, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
Pastor Logan Dysart, Faith Lutheran Church
Senior Pastor Caleb Henry, Oxford United Methodist Church
Marcy Miller, Executive Director, Hillel at Miami
Fr. Jeff Silver, St. Mary Church & Catholic Campus Ministry