Toni Hagerman and the Rev. Rebecca Yarbrough of Galilee Ministries of East Charlotte, the Diocese's ministry to refugees and recent immigrants, are experienced in welcoming newcomers to their community. They offer the following suggestions to help parishes get started advocating for refugees:
- Connect your mission, social justice, and/or outreach committees with local refugee resettlement agencies (where they exist) and services, and encourage the teams to support them as needed and as they are able.
- Consider a special offering during Lent for designation to a resettlement program such as Episcopal Migration Ministries or the resettlement program in your area, or a refugee support program such as Galilee Ministries. Alternatively, you may want to support a foreign mission that supports refugees, such as the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem, which supports refugee camps in Jordan.
- Hold a special social or educational event to educate your parish about refugees and to get to know them. Include a meal, and consider a movie night. A screening of “Salam, Neighbor” is free—it can be downloaded through YouTube or streamed on Netflix. Invite refugees in your community and community leaders so that everyone learns together.
- Pray daily for refugees, and name refugee groups in your community in the Prayers of the People.
- Advocate for refugees in your community and in the world. Locally, learn about their housing, job training, English language or other needs and rally support for them with community leaders. Nationally and globally, communicate with elected and appointed decision makers about the importance and benefit of welcoming the stranger and supporting them in their work to become citizens. Peace and greater understanding come through building relationships with people who are different from us.
- NC Council of Churches
- NC Religious Coalition for Justice for Immigrants