As churches within the Conference seek to respond to the humanitarian crisis concerning the resettlement of Afghan refugees, many are facing difficult questions about the process and how they can be most helpful.
To support these efforts, the Conference’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion program is partnering with Global HOPE – National Ministries (at the church’s national setting), and the Conference Immigration, Refugees, and Asylum Task Team to plan an online gathering to offer an online gathering for congregations. We also seek to include representatives from state/regional organizations that are working on these efforts.
The date of this meeting has not been finalized, but we anticipate offering it within the next couple of weeks. We will share additional information as soon as possible. The goal of this gathering is to discern a contextual plan to successfully help resettle this population in these local communities. As such, we intend to provide congregations and members with necessary information, respond to specific questions, and share the experiences of congregations who have previously sponsored families.
In the meantime, Global H.O.P.E. invites people interested in serving as a point person to consider registering with the Partners in Service program, which will provide a grounding of support to coordinate the churches involved. Team Global HOPE can help train this person for this leadership task in coordination with your conference staff.
“One individual acting as a lead for a coalition is extremely valuable for making contact with partner resources like resettlement offices,” said Irene Hassan, Minister for Refugee and Migration Services with Team Global HOPE at the United Church of Christ National Ministries. “If too many volunteers are contacting too many resettlement offices with too many questions, it could get confusing. But if a resettlement office consistently knows there’s a trained and knowledgeable individual they can liaise with, they’re more likely to partner with you.”
Given the intensity of the Afghan situation, having a Partner in Service to coordinate a rotation/resource schedule and inventory for providing one to three families with job training, English, apartment hunting, possibly short-term rental assistance, school enrollment, clothing, etc., will be immeasurably valuable for assuring long term sustainability through your collective efforts, said Hassan.
Grants are available for churches and associations who engage in these collaborative projects. Additional information is available at Global H.O.P.E. Disaster Ministries Long-Term Recovery Seed Grant Application. Global H.O.PE. can also connect individuals and churches to their local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster teams that can support survival needs, culturally appropriate disaster/trauma counseling efforts, and other resources for this as well, Hassan said.
Photo by Fateme Shahabi on Unsplash