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PC(USA)’s Compassion, Peace & Justice staff aids Louisville refugees


Employees sort donations at Kentucky Refugee Ministries warehouse

February 24, 2019

Compassion, Peace & Justice staff members navigate one of the rooms filled with dishes at Kentucky Refugee Ministries. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“What do you think?” Rob Fohr, director of Faith-Based Investing & Corporate Engagement for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), asked after surveying the multi-room warehouse packed with household supplies.

“I think there’s a lot to do,” replied Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

The leaders of two of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries stood among a rippling lake of bedding on one side and a sea of chairs and other furniture in various states of repair on the other. Added to the mix were dishes, cutlery, toys, medical supplies and many other items intended to help refugee families resettling in Louisville.

Horton and Fohr were part of a nearly 40-person CPJ crew that took time out of staff meetings during a recent week to help Kentucky Refugee Ministries sort donations so they could quickly be distributed to refugee families when they arrived in Louisville, often with just a few days’ or hours’ notice.

Giving the staff instructions, KRM donation coordinator Daynier Adan said he needed items sorted so that when he gets notice that, say, a family of five with two parents and three children, including a baby, are on the way, he can grab the necessary number of sheets, dishes, furniture and the like to quickly set up a new home for their arrival.

“I always want to remind people that this is going to a real person’s home, and whether they have the right items is going to affect how they view this city in their first few hours here,” Adan told the CPJ volunteers.

Then the staff quickly divided and went to work.

“We felt it is really important to be part of this community,” CPJ Director Sara Lisherness said. “The staff at CPJ take their calling very seriously.

“This is part of who we are as Presbyterians. . . . It’s part of our DNA.”

While a number of PC(USA) entities deal with immigration issues, Lisherness said work with KRM is one way Presbyterians can care for refugees once they are in the United States.

Adan knows that very well. Fifteen years ago he and his family arrived in Louisville to start a new life after fleeing Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba.

“It was the first time I had ever been really cold,” Adan said. “The parka that I got from KRM I still wear.”

Although the flow of refugees has decreased in the past couple of years as the Trump administration has imposed new limits on immigration, Adan said the needs remain. The Louisville community has responded with donations and groups of volunteers like the CPJ staff.

“Without the volunteers, we would have to stop,” he said. “Louisville has been doing for us what our State Department and president haven’t done in two years.”

 Rich Copley, Communication Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Compassion, Peace & Justice

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Shelly Lewis, ASG
Tony Lewis, PPC

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, your unconditional love inspires us to be loving, welcoming and hospitable to our neighbors. Pour into our hearts your compassion and strengthen and guide us as we go forth to make your kingdom tangible. Grant us your peace and surround us with your presence. Amen.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 24, 2019, the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

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