Immigration conference postponed to focus on immediate needs

PC(USA) will present Matthew 25 event on resettlement Nov. 17

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Susan Krehbiel

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — Together We Welcome, a national faith gathering to support immigrants and migrants, has been postponed from this month to March 2022 due to the amount of work currently needed to support Afghan refugees coming to the United States.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a major sponsor of the Church World Service (CWS) conference, now set for March 4-6, 2022.

“The CWS conference that is planned is comprehensive, focusing on refugee ministry in many forms — refugee resettlement, accompanying asylum seekers, advocacy and understanding climate-induced migration,” said Susan  Krehbiel, associate for Refugees & Asylum for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and a member of the CWS Faith Solidarity Group. “Staff and volunteers are needed to really focus their energies on welcoming the Afghans who are already in the U.S., most on military bases, to quickly get them into communities and into housing.”

Click here to learn more about the Presbyterian response to Afghan refugees

Krehbiel said that presenters and people who had registered for the conference, which had been set to begin Sunday, have been notified of the postponement.

Church World Service is one of nine resettlement agencies in the United States. Last week it announced a major expansion, “responding to the worst displacement crisis in history and ensuring that every arriving refugee family has the support they need to become thriving members of their communities,” a press release said.

According to the statement, CWS will be opening 10 additional sites and programs across the U.S. to welcome and resettle Afghan refugees.

Rick Santos, President and CEO of CWS, said, “After years of declining refugee admissions, once again our nation is leading with our values by welcoming Afghans in need of safety and rebuilding the life-saving refugee resettlement program. From coast to coast, communities are willing and able to welcome them, understanding that compassion is a civic virtue and is an investment in our shared future.”

Krehbiel said while the conference will not happen this month, CWS and ministry partners will be seeking to offer education opportunities for people to learn how they can become involved in resettlement work. One of those will be a PC(USA) Matthew 25 event at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

Click here to register for Matthew 25–Refugees and Immigration

“We will be hosting a conversation with a couple of local refugee ministries, including one focused on the Afghan arrivals,” Krehbiel said. “As in other Matthew 25 events, this will be an opportunity to hear about two very different types of ministries while also reflecting on how the welcoming of refugees is one expression of living out the Matthew 25 commitment.

“Of course, ‘welcoming the stranger’ and ‘feeding the hungry’ are part of the actual Scripture text, but it is more than that. In accompanying newly-arrived refugees or asylum seekers, we are also called into ministries of justice that force us to confront the systemic racism within our international relations and our immigration policies. And I look forward to this type of sharing and reflection between local and national church leaders.”

Krehbiel and PDA, along with the Office of Immigration Issues in the Office of the General Assembly, will be working to present additional educational programs to help Presbyterians engage in welcome in coming weeks and months.

Gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing enable Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to support Refugee and Asylum ministries.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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