|Volunteers from the United Church of Christ Congregational and Congregation Beth Elohim, Boxborough, MA|
Called to welcome the stranger, called to radical hospitality - congregations of our Conference are responding to the needs of Afghan refugee families coming to our communities in large numbers. The commitments are extensive, lasting for a year or more, and often sharing the responsibilities with Jewish, Muslim and other Christian faith communities.Last fall, the SNEUCC Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team invited congregations working with evacuees to apply for a small grant. As the applications increased a partnership was formed with the Ecumenical and Interfaith Task Team, four congregations, and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program of the Southern New England Conference to increase available funds. What a great joy it is to award the grant to twenty-two congregations!
After many months living in tents on military bases, the families arrive at their new home. Volunteers visit the family, have conversations, practice saying the family names, take off shoes when entering the house, and work on different tasks including school registration of the children, English classes for the adult family members in preparation of employment, teaching banking skills on the computer, and introduction to the neighborhood they live in.
One congregation reports: “There was a trip to the neighborhood library with three of the older boys. Each one got his own, his first, library card and poked through the stacks of young reader books. They felt very grown-up, going home with a book or two.”
At a future Conference zoom session, the congregations will share their experiences and tell the story of the resettlement of the family they are supporting. Our prayers of hope and courage extend to the Afghan refugee children, parents and their extended families.
For information of the activities and programs of the Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team contact Cindy Worthington-Berry, firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our web pages here.
Afghan Refuge Grant recipients:
Claremont Federated Church, Claremont, MA
Court Square Congregational Church, Greenfield, MA
First Congregational Church, Fairfield, CT
First Congregational Church, Essex, CT
First Congregational Church, Ipswich, MA
First Congregational Church, Longmeadow, MA
First Congregational Church, Mansfield, CT
First Congregational Church, New Milford, CT
First Congregational Church, Portland, CT
First Congregational Church, Reading, MA
First Congregational Church, South Windsor, CT
First Congregational Church, West Hartford, CT
First Congregational Church, West Springfield, MA
First Congregational Church, Williamstown, MA
First Church in Windsor, UCC Windsor, CT
Hadwen Park Congregational Church, Worcester, MA
Newtown Congregational Church, Newtown, CT
Norfield Congregational Church, Weston, CT
North Guilford Congregational Church, North Guilford, CT
North Madison Congregational Church, North Madison, CT
United Church of Christ Congregational, Boxborough, MA
Waquoit Congregational Church, Falmouth, MA