Welcoming the Stranger
Cosponsoring a refugee family to be resettled "afforded our congregation another "window to the world" that was new to many of them," writes Hank Woolard, chairperson of the Refugee Family Support Group for Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Decatur, GA. "It was a most enriching experience for all work worked with the family in any significant way." Helping the Khashimov family resettle in Decatur was a first for the Oak Grove congregation. It was such a positive experience for the church that they have since voted to cosponsor two families each year, "we consider this part of our ongoing Christian witness and mission," Mr. Woolard commented in his report to UMCOR's refugee office.
Saint Paul's United Methodist Church in Louisville, KY, cosponsored a family from Somalia that brought the whole church together to help meet their needs. The family arrived with two children and one on the way. Pamela Greenwell, who coordinated the church's efforts, made sure everything was taken care of for this young and growing family. "I'd walk around to six or eight Sunday school classes and ask, 'who wants to do this?'" Ms. Greenwell said to Church World Service. In the end, church members donated enough supplies to furnish an apartment not only for the family from Somalia, but for two additional refugee families. It's true what people say," Ms. Greenwell reflects. "You get way more out of it than what you put in"
How You Can Help
Oak Grove and Saint Paul's are two of 42 United Methodist churches that helped resettle 63 refugee families last year. UMCOR works with the Church World Service Immigration and Refugee program to resettle refugees in the US. Time and time again the reports come in from churches saying what a positive experience cosponsoring a refugee family is for church congregations.
Tuesday, June 20 is World Refugee Day. Please use the church bulletin insert and report to donors to share the good word about how United Methodists are making a difference in the lives of so many families. In honor of this day, please consider starting a cosponsorship ministry in your church or supporting this effort through giving to UMCOR Advance #901779, New Hope for Newcomers.