United Church of Christ

First Masks Now The Peoples Sanitizer

A new grass-roots solidarity project for migrants in the shanty towns of Piana di GioiaTauro in Calabria.

Global Ministries partner, The Mediterranean Hope, a migrant and refugee program of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy is working alongside activists and associates of Le Marche, delivering sanitizer and masks to vulnerable children and first responders. Over 12 seamstresses in the area expressed their availability to produce the masks. A local congregation made financial resources available to purchase the raw materials necessary to make the protective devices. 

 


UCC Asylum Seeker Accompaniment Webinar

UCC Asylum Seeker Accompaniment Webinar

If you missed the lastest Asylum Seeker Accompaniment Webinar do not fret. We've uploaded the video online for you to watch. This webinar was brought to you by Amanda Sheldon, Program Associate for UCC Refugee & Asylum Ministries and Rev. Noel Andersen, UCC National Collaborative on Immigration in an effort to create a document for churches to use on asylum seeker accompaniment. 

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Religious leaders oppose "immoral" refugee limits

KatieRefugeeVigil.jpegUCC 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."


Why we welcome by Marge

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.
Marge from First Congregational Church-
 
preview-full-BAby_and_me.JPGIn August 2018, I was able to visit the border between Arizona and Nogales Mexico. It was there that I met a family of four seeking asylum. In January of 2019, that family arrived in Massachusetts to seek asylum here. Though our church initiated and agreed to support them, I realized we needed a large network of people and sought the help of other churches, synagogues, and individuals to be sure we had the structure needed to take on this ministry. 
 
This family is not safe in their home country; yet could easily be returned there by a government that doesn’t really care about them. They have had to learn to navigate a system that is foreign to them in so many ways. And yet their faith continues to hold them and keep them positive about their future. The mom helps others facing the same or even greater adversity in whatever way she can, sharing child sitting, food, companionship.

 

Why we welcome by Kim

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.
preview-gallery-NCUCC_equality_IJM.jpgWhen the opportunity to provide sanctuary, and later asylum accompaniment, was presented to our congregation by a member, we knew nothing about doing this ministry. Our discernment process had to be quick as we were presented with a very immediate need.  We had a great deal of work to do, had never done this type of ministry in the past and had a high learning curve.  I remember saying in a meeting as we were discerning:  “At some point, we need to give this to God and trust.  It is the right thing to do.”  
 
I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that there have also been challenges along the way.  We have needed to learn to work together as a group of volunteers in a way that we have not before.  This work is very different than any of the other work I have ever experienced in my 24 plus years on boards, in leadership and community outreach with our congregation.  It takes weekly meetings, learning, research, planning, trial and error, fundraising and a great deal of outreach within the congregation for assistance as well as outside the congregation.
 

Why we welcome by Allison

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.


"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"



21.19.03.12_A_room_full_m_1_.JPG"Why do we welcome? Let me count the ways…
 
1.  We welcome because we can.
2.  We welcome because it is the right thing to do.
3.  We welcome because these are our neighbors. Refugees and asylum seekers live near us, and Christianity is very much about the community. The flip side is that we are also their neighbors, and neighbors take care of neighbors.
4.  We welcome because Jesus built bridges, not walls.
5.  We welcome because a committed group of volunteers meets God each time we are able to meet our sisters and brothers where they are on their journeys.
6.  We welcome this way because we understand this to be radical hospitality.
7.  We welcome because we recognize that when Europeans first came to these shores, they came with Bibles and weapons, not immigration papers. When the African-born first came, it was as enslaved people. We may have a small impact on the larger debate of reparations and immigration, but we can do justice by sharing today, affirming the dignity of every human being.
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Why we welcome by Amanda

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.

Amanda Sheldon is the national Program Associate for Refugee and Asylum Ministries and Disaster Ministries with the United Church of Christ.
 
IMG_8280.JPGToday is my birthday, and as I reflect on my blessings over the past year, I can’t help but count my new friendship with a father-son duo my church family and I have fondly come to refer to as ‘The Joses’. This past September, I received an urgent call from a community liaison staff person at an elementary school, asking if I knew of any resources that could help a little boy who had missed nearly a month of classes and who had recently arrived in the community with his father, both asylum seekers. The little boy refused to ride the bus to school or be in the classroom without his father sitting next to him. He almost never spoke, and neither he nor his father understood a word of English. If his father so much as left to use the restroom, the little boy would dissolve into a panic, crying, and would frantically run out of the classroom trying to find his father. The father was beside himself, distraught over how to care for and support his son, dealing with his own trauma from their journey out of Central America and unsure of how to navigate a country he’d never known and couldn’t understand. Was there anything I could do? Alone, maybe. With God and my church family behind me, absolutely.
 

 


Why We Welcome by Todd

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.

77179432_3078586625491202_7713361251836887040_n.jpgGrace 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

Have You Helped Welcome a Refugee? Sign On Now to Protect Refugee Resettlement

Dear Friends,

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.

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A refugee family resettled in Columbus

DeborahReunion.jpg"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.