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Presbyterians to share how they’re welcoming Afghan refugees

Hear their stories during Feb. 17 webinar by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The virtual series Around the World with PDA returns at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Feb. 17 with an installment showcasing how partners are welcoming Afghan refugees in two southern states, Arkansas and Virginia.

Registration has begun for the webinar featuring guests such as Julie Font, a member of Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, who co-chairs an Afghan sponsorship team that coordinates the volunteers, fundraising and budget for the resettlement of an Afghan family in Arkansas. The family is one of thousands who recently fled to the United States due to turmoil in their country, where living conditions have worsened since the fall of the Afghan government and military and the departure of U.S. troops last summer.

Joel Gill, executive director of Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Little Rock, and the Rev. Clayton Rascoe, executive director of Massanetta Springs Camp and Conference Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will share how they saw an opportunity to provide critical transitional housing while Afghans waited to find safe and affordable housing.

“This is the first time since the Afghans started arriving in July 2021 that we will have first-hand accounts from Presbyterians who are directly involved,” said Susan Krehbiel, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Associate for Refugees and Asylum. It’s an opportunity to “hear their stories about the Afghans but also the experience of the churches and volunteers. It is also highlighting a unique partnership between PC(USA) camps, local churches and resettlement organizations.”

Susan Krehbiel

Rounding out the roster of guests will be Rebecca Roetzel, Mission and Outreach director at Ferncliff, and Carolyn Thalman, a member of First Presbyterian Church in Winchester, Virginia, and of PDA’s National Response Team.

Previous installments of Around the World with PDA focused on international partners in Honduras and India.

Hearing from the slated domestic partners will be helpful to people who are planning to welcome or sponsor Afghan refugees, are thinking about doing so or just want to know more about “our new Afghan neighbors,” Krehbiel said.

The webinar also will give viewers a chance to hear stories about how PDA and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — in all its expressions — are working together, she said.

“We want to continue to share the stories about how local Presbyterians and our connectional church are working together to inspire and support each other in this important ministry,” Krehbiel said. “We want people to know that their support to the PDA refugee ministry is helping these types of creative responses to meet the very urgent and real needs of Afghans who have arrived. We also want to continue to share the story as it unfolds in this historic moment of welcoming our Afghan allies.”

If you would like to watch the February webinar on Zoom, go here to register, or simply view the livestream on Facebook.

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

 


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