“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me….”
Jesus, speaking in Matt. 25: 34-35
Diocesan Migration Ministry Resources is a diocesan group dedicated to helping area asylees and refugees feel welcomed and supported as our neighbors. We responded to their needs in several ways.
- Through the efforts of churches and related groups in our diocese, Diocesan Migration Ministry Resources undertook or led donation appeals for newly arrived refugees settling in our area, such as collecting pots, pans, and linens for their homes, along with school backpacks, supplies, and lunchboxes for the children of refugees.
- Several Episcopal parishes have refugee ministry groups serving organizations and individual families in their own communities, such as ALERT in the Lancaster Convocation, outreach efforts by St. James Church (Lancaster), and sponsorship of a refugee family by All Saints Church (Hanover).
Diocesan Migration Ministry Resources developed a 3-part learning series that you can use in your church or group to educate people about asylees and refugees. If you have a refugee community living nearby that you would like to work with, or if you simply want to know more about their needs, this education series will help you. The series is designed so that it can be self-led by a group, or you can request to have a member of the Diocesan Migration Ministry Resources assist with the presentation. The series is available below.
Diocesan Migration Ministry Resources always welcomes new members. If you are interested in helping asylees and refugees, or if your parish is already involved in such a mission, please consider joining our group.
Contact Gerry Garber for more information.
An Exciting Family Update
The HAIKAL family of six from Syria arrived at the Harrisburg Airport on July 27. This family is being sponsored by Derry Presbyterian Church in Hershey, with assistance from All Saints’ Episcopal Church. The family consists of mother, father, three school age boys and a preschool daughter. Housing was found through Love Inc.’s Homes for Hope program. The family is settling in well, the boys are being enrolled in the public schools, and the young daughter will attend preschool at Derry Presbyterian. ESL programs have been set up and tutoring has begun on a daily basis. The family has been enrolled for medical and food assistance, and Mohammed, the father, has a promising job interview this week. They have already visited Hersheypark and the local swimming pool complex. School starts next week and so does soccer for the boys. Everyone is enthusiastic and the sponsorship team, though working hard, is seeing positive results from their labors. A few glitches occurred including a plumbing emergency and a six year old child inadvertently set off a fire alarm added to the adventure. We are moving forward with many blessings along the way!
Who Are Asylum Seekers? How are they Diﬀerent from Refugees?
Asylum seekers are people who come to the United States seeking protection because they have suﬀered persecution or fear that they will suﬀer persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. (Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). If they are eligible for asylum, they may be permitted to remain in the United States. They must ﬁll out an application for asylum within one year of arrival in the U.S. They may include their spouse and children on the application until a ﬁnal decision is made on their case.
Refugees are people who live outside the United States and were forced to ﬂee across an international border to seek protection in another country. (Source: Episcopal Migration Ministries). They have the same fear of persecution as asylum seekers. The United Nations Refugee Agency determines that if a refugee cannot return to their home country or stay in the country to which they have ﬂed, they can be resettled to a third country, such as the United States. The U.N. Refugee Agency chooses the country for resettlement, subject to approval by that country. If that country is the United States, refugees then must be approved by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Refugees are matched with a national resettlement agency such as Episcopal Migration Ministries or Catholic Charities and must settle initially in the area chosen for them, where they receive temporary ﬁnancial help.
Once approved, both asylum seekers and refugees have the right to remain legally in the United States. Bishop Scanlan has released a statement regarding refugees. To read the statement, click here.
Refugee Resource Information and Websites
- A new release of information about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is now available. To view, click here.
- Office of Refugee Resettlement https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr. Helps new populations maximize their potential in the US by linking them to critical resources that assist them in becoming integrated members of American society.
- Episcopal Migration Ministries- https://episcopalmigrationministries.org
EMM lives the call of welcome by supporting refugees, immigrants, and the communities that embrace them as they walk together in The Episcopal Church’s movement to create loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships rooted in compassion.
- Refugee Council USA- rcusa.org
RECUSA is a coalition dedicated to refugee protection, welcome, and excellence in the US Refugee Resettlement program.
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service- https://www.lirs.org
LIRS works to protect and embrace refugees, migrants, and children seeking a new life in America. LIRS and its national network of service providers are uniquely equipped to provide holistic, trauma-informed, and age-appropriate care to the vulnerable individuals they serve.
- Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services- www.cchbg.org/get-help/immigration-refugee-services
Advocates for immigration and refugee policies that protect family unity and allow newcomers an opportunity to contribute and participate more fully in our communities. Catholic Charities is the agency appointed by the U.S. Government to supervise refugee resettlement in the Harrisburg area.
- PAIRWN, The Pennsylvania Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Network- www.pairwn.org
PAIRWN was created to honor and enhance the lives of refugee and immigrant women in Pennsylvania. Their mission is to help refer, advocate, network, educate, and empower these women to live to their fullest potential. They strive to educate others about their cultures and their contributions to American society.
- Church World Services Lancaster-https://cwslancaster.org
CWS welcomes refugees, immigrants, asylum-seekers, and other uprooted people within the US, who seek safety and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. They work hand-in-hand with churches, organizations, and individuals to provide hope and home to refugees and immigrants from all over the world. 7.
Guides and Presentation Material
Refugee Ministry Report
Submitted by Rich Garron, St. John’s, Lancaster
In February 2022, I was asked to coordinate a refugee ministry our church was to begin. St. John’s, Lancaster was pleased to receive a Shaped by Faith Grant. Also, initial funding came from Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren. We began our planning with Church World Service (CWS) which works with the U.S. State Department in welcoming refugees to this country and in helping them transition to life in their new home. CWS helps organizations, such as churches, set up welcome teams consisting of groups helping in the following areas: housing, medical, transportation, school, cultural adjustment, and jobs and finance.
The easiest way for me reflect on this past year is by dividing in into three phases:
- Initial Engagement
- Taking-Stock-of Reality
Several people from church met CWS representatives and something new was planned! We have created a hybrid approach where a church welcome team will work with neighbors to welcome a refugee family. St. John’s owns a small house behind its campus which would be designated as transitional housing for a refugee family. Indeed, the church has tried to make the rental terms as favorable as possible. Over the following months, Church World Service (CWS) helped us establish and train groups, go through background checks, and identify neighbors who would want to be part of this process.
We were preparing to welcome a family by September and during the months of July and August church members worked to renovate and furnish the house. On August 31, 2022, we met the family at Lancaster airport and drove them to their new home.
2. Initial Engagement
We welcomed a Muslim family of five from Ethiopia which had resettled initially in Kenya. The father and the eight-year-old son arrived in Lancaster in June, the mother and the sixteen-year- old son and fourteen-year-old daughter arrived in August. The father was a teacher and speaks acceptable English and the mother understands some English, but can neither read nor write in her own language. The children are enrolled in school and we have developed a very good working relationship with the Multicultural Coordinator of Lancaster City School District.
We have worked together with CWS, and they have helped find the father a job, set up a bank account and register the children for school. CWS took care of the above items as well as obtaining social security cards and Medicaid cards, setting-up internet, and providing phones. I have known about CWS for a long time; it does good work and after things got going, I found them helpful and responsive.
Various groups engaged with the family at various points; for example, there were many medical and grocery trips and visits to the clothes bank. There were several health issues that continue to linger and because Dad’s job is at night and at a great distance, there are many days when he has little time to spend with the family. It seems to be a loving family and the father and I becoming good friends.
In addition, the Welcome Team hosted a dinner for the family where a great time was had by all.
3. Taking-Stock-of Reality
So, at the end of five months we find ourselves as follows:
- the family has a clean, safe, comfortable home
- the family has access to good medical care
- Dad has a job that for now is able to support the family;
- all children are in school;
- a good part of the financial/administrative base – social security cards, other IDs, bank accounts – have been established.
CWS speaks about core services and it seems these bases have been covered. However, there is still the question of cultural differences and family uniqueness to consider and into this mix is the fact that each refugee has had an unpleasant situation from which they have fled. The family does not seem comfortable having many people at a time helping them. They are several from the church with whom they’ll engage and it’s little-by-little that we’ve begun to try to earn their trust: we’re helping with financial matters, trying to get the boys involved in soccer, and negotiating the different types of English Second Language and other learning programs. Transportation continues to be an issue and the family will need help there for quite a while.
Regardless of the templates used in welcoming a family, there is a lot of trial and error. Seems to be a question of being flexible and earning trust little-by-little.
CWS has been generous with its time and funding, but will, according to the model it uses, be pulling back in support of the family. This will present new challenges that will require patience and developing the trust the family has in us.