UCC advocates, religious leaders and interfaith allies gathered outside a federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Md., Wednesday morning, Jan. 8, to celebrate refugees and their contributions to the United States. Representing more than 50 denominations and faith groups that work on refugee resettlement, they came together to oppose Trump administration efforts to further limit the number of refugees allowed into the U.S.
The Rev. Noel Andersen, coordinator of the UCC Collaborative on Immigration and grassroots organizer for Church World Service, joined Katie Adams, domestic policy advocate with the UCC office in Washington, D.C., who spoke on behalf of the church.
"The sacred scriptures of our faiths lay out a blueprint for how we are to welcome refugees," Adams said. "Over and over again we are exhorted to watch over the stranger, love the least of these. We are told clearly: 'Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.'"
The Maryland court is slated to hear oral arguments in a case filed by three refugee resettlement agencies suing the federal government to protect that program. HIAS, Church World Service, Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service v. Trump challenges the president's order that allows states and local governments to keep refugees out of their jurisdictions.
"The decision to limit where and how the welcome is extended to refugees in this exceedingly cruel and arbitrary edict is not just unlawful, it is immoral," Adams continued. "And let's be clear: the root of these policies is fear of the 'stranger' and white supremacy. We know that the administration's harmful changes are not being made to serve any reasonable policy objective."
"On the second Sunday of Advent, Alison B. of Williston Immanuel United Church in Portland, ME shares her reflection on Why We Welcome. To read more about Williston-Immanuel United Church's work with refugees and asylum seekers, see this article in United Church News. https://www.ucc.org/news_churches_around_maine_welcome_asylum_seekers_from_africa_in_varied_ways_07192019"
"Why do we welcome? Let me count the ways…
The 'Why We Welcome' series, launched during Advent 2019, asks the United Church of Christ churches around the country to answer the question: Why do we welcome refugees and asylum seekers? As the U.S. government slashes the number of refugees allowed to enter the country and turns away those desperately seeking asylum at our borders, God's word made flesh in Christ continues to be lived and spoken boldly through God's children and their commitment to welcome.
The 'Why We Welcome' series, launched during Advent 2019, asks United Church of Christ churches around the country to answer the question: Why do we welcome refugees and asylum seekers? As the U.S. government slashes the number of refugees allowed to enter the country and turns away those desperately seeking asylum at our borders, God's word made flesh in Christ continues to be lived and spoken boldly through God's children and their commitment to welcome.
Our first story is from Todd T.
Grace Immanuel United Church of Christ is a welcoming sort of place, so it’s no surprise the congregation extends its welcome worldwide with a 20-year history of co-sponsoring refugee families with Kentucky Refugee Ministries. It’s a gratifying, hands-on way to practice Christian principles — with the bonus of making new friends that will no doubt broaden your world view.
Welcoming refugees, especially with language and cultural barriers, can certainly be outside your comfort zone. But forging through those fears of the unknown is worth it when you make connections to people who have often fled war, violence and the difficulties of refugee camps. Helping refugees clear the hurdles and challenges of a new country — from things as difficult as government bureaucracy to something as simple as instructing them about mass transit — is always a rewarding experience.
Have You Helped Welcome a Refugee? Sign On Now to Protect Refugee Resettlement
Have you or your congregation or community group ever been involved in helping resettle or welcome refugees? If so please sign here.
The refugee resettlement program is in grave threat of being dismantled through a very low refugee admissions goal to be set before September 30th. Decision-makers urgently need to hear the moral voice of faith communities and stakeholders like you who have participated in the refugee program and helped resettle refugees.
There is also an Executive Order likely to come out soon that will allow local officials or governors to opt their state out of the refugee program. It will be important to show strong support at a local level of congregations and organizations that are invested in refugee resettlement.
If you or your congregation has helped welcome a refugee, please sign onto this letter now! We need your help to save the refugee resettlement program!
Please Sign On Here by Monday, September 23rd
Thank you for your support and solidarity with refugees in this critical moment.
"A refugee from Uganda has reunited with her four children this summer after a separation of more than five years — thanks to her dogged determination, constant advocacy and continued accompaniment of her church family.
Deborah Jane Baliraine, joined by allies from First Community Church (FCC) United Church of Christ and Community Refugee Immigration Services (CRIS), both in Columbus, Ohio, welcomed her son and three daughters to their new home in the United States in late June."
To read the full article written by Connie Larkman click here.
"United Church of Christ clergy and congregations took leadership, served as hosts, lit candles and planned follow-up actions during many of the hundreds of "Lights for Liberty" vigils held Friday evening, July 12. The events around the country protested the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers detained at the southern U.S. border, in what national vigil organizers refer to as concentration camps." For more on this article that was written by Hans Holznagel please click here.