Responding to a Crisis: Refugee Support Team Begins Work
In the greatest refugee crisis of the modern era, 60 million persons have been displaced by conflict, persecution, or climate conditions, and the number is certain to grow. Of these desperate men, women and children existing in terrible conditions, less than one-half of one percent gain approval as refugees through the extensive vetting process to be admitted as new Americans. So much needs to be done to welcome these; so many more could be admitted by a generous nation willing to open its doors wider.
Guided by a faith which incorporates the Biblical command “you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt,” the Refugee Support Team of the Nauset Interfaith Association (NIA) hopes to assist our congregations in responding to this need. We have learned that no agencies are resettling refugees on Cape Cod, but we won’t be deterred! We are establishing a partnership of support and friendship with Ascentria Care Alliance in Worcester and the Concordia Lutheran Church. The church is currently a “community circle” congregation, sponsoring two families (one Congolese, the other Iraqi-Syrian) to support their physical and social needs as they settle into a new culture. As an “extended community circle” we have taken first steps to help with tangible supports, providing a designated portion of the NIA Thanksgiving offering so that Pastor Ann Bergdorf can begin a discretionary fund. We will soon be hearing of other specific items needed. Although it appears that it will be a while before Cape hosts will be able to receive a visiting refugee family, we hope to begin the friendship process through a visit and meal at the Lutheran Church.
NIA faith communities can expect to be challenged to be involved in various ways. We affirm that important pieces of a faithful response include more deeply educating ourselves, and having a voice in advocacy for more humane refugee policies. To comment or suggest ideas for our efforts together, still in formative stages, contact Chair, Rev. Rod MacDonald or Rev. Ken Campbell.