Connecting with Others through Learning

Opportunities to learn about refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S. and around the world are numerous as we approach World Refugee Day on June 20th. Knowing where to begin with this complicated subject can be daunting, so we have pulled together some study materials to better educate your congregation about today’s refugees.

Learning about the process, the statistics, and the needs of refugees is important, but remembering that these are human beings with the same need for home, security, and happiness as we do is crucial. In fact, appreciating the resilience of refugees now living full and productive lives in the U.S. acknowledges our shared experience of the human condition.

Similarly, sometimes looking at the big picture feels overwhelming and focusing on specific situations or topics can make it easier to understand why people might flee their homes. Take for instance the war in Syria—did you know that it has been going on for 10 years? To help your congregation learn more about what is happening there, The Syria-Lebanon Partnership Network produced Syria: The Burden of Memory and the Hope of the Gospel, a study guide for small groups to learn more about the origins of the war, the role of the church in Syria and hopes for the future. Or, you could also attend one of the many webinars and online celebrations organized by various faith communities around the U.S. PC(USA) is launching a new series later this month entitled Welcoming the Stranger: Immigration, Root Causes, and the Search for Justice and Transformation:

The PC(USA) Migration Roundtable will present a series of webinars to address various issues related to forced displacement and U.S. policy. As the PC(USA) statement from 1999 reminds us, love of neighbor requires Christians to seek justice for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants. What does justice look like in US policy to address root causes? What does justice look like in the reception of asylum seekers and resettled refugees? The webinar series will be broadcast on Zoom (pre-registration required) and simulcast on Facebook Live.

The first in the series is Central American Migration: Root Causes & U.S. Policy (Tuesday, May 25, 5pm ET) with Lisa Haugaard, the Co-director of the Latin America Working Group and Rev. Santiago Flores, an ordained pastor and Executive Committee member of The Reformed Calvinist Church of El Salvador (IRCES). Moderated by Amanda Craft, Manager of Advocacy for Immigration Issues Office, PC(USA), we will look at the circumstances that drive people from Central America to seek safety in the U.S. Considerable attention will be given to U.S. foreign and immigration policies, and the impact they have on individuals in Central America.

On Wednesday, June 9, 3pm ET, Susan Krehbiel (Associate for Refugees and Asylum, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance) will moderate Immigration Detention. This webinar will cover U.S. reliance on immigration detention, as well as a new video series highlighting the harsh realities inside these detention centers. Learn from firsthand accounts of inhumane treatment, documented instances of abuse, and Presbyterians and interfaith coalitions who advocate to end immigration detention even as they seek to minister to individuals who are detained.

Visit the Office of Public Witness Facebook page to find information about upcoming episodes.

Church World Service also offers a weekly webinar on Mondays at 12pm ET for local congregations and individuals who volunteer with refugees or are interested in doing so. You can register for upcoming webinars (updated monthly) and watch recordings of past webinars by going to the CWS Community Sponsorship page.

We hope we have inspired you to learn more, and that you will return to our World Refugee Day page and direct your passion into worship, service and advocacy!

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