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Partnership ministers to refugees and immigrants


New mission co-worker to be called to El Salvador

September 20, 2019

Representatives from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance observe training for church leaders volunteering to work with Salvadorans forced to return from the U.S. and Mexico. This new ministry provides accompaniment and shelter to ease migrants’ transition to their country of birth. (Photo by Tracey King-Ortega)

The Reformed Calvinist Church of El Salvador (IRCES) is a unique church partner. Though small in number, it is big in vision and commitment to the gospel. Grounded in their Reformed identity, they are always making time to analyze and discern their call, based on the context in which they serve. From way south of the border, our partners are watching and anticipating the direct impact of U.S. immigration policy as they turn to longtime U.S. mission partners and confidants to ask, “What are you going to do about this? How can we face this together?”

Because of the trust we have built together and their courage to ask these questions, the 2018 General Assembly passed a resolution, authored by Pacific Presbytery, that seeks to equip the PC(USA) and IRCES to act on behalf of those suffering the injustices of our broken immigration system.

World Mission is moving forward in the recruitment process to call a mission co-worker to work in partnership with IRCES and other churches in the Northern Triangle of Central America and in Mexico. This mission co-worker will work to develop a Meso-American refugee and immigration advocacy network. We are also finalizing the design of a training and empowerment program to form young adult leaders to be peacebuilders in their communities. We will launch the program later this year in El Salvador. The long-term hope is to replicate the program in Guatemala and Honduras.

Another exciting outcome of the questions being asked of us by IRCES is a new partnership between Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and IRCES to provide humanitarian and pastoral care to Salvadorans who are returned by the U.S. government. Susan Krehbiel, associate for refugees and asylum with PDA, said that, “While the PC(USA) and IRCES have enjoyed an ecclesial and missional relationship for decades, this new ministry area for IRCES fits naturally with the role of PDA, thereby expanding the way the two churches relate to each other.”

The establishment of a transitional shelter and services was first proposed by IRCES in response to an announcement by the U.S. government to end Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for 195,000 Salvadorans in 2019. While a court injunction has postponed the termination of TPS until at least January 2020, the church is moving forward with preparations. All of this is taking place in the midst of growing violence and political strife in the Northern Triangle. This humanitarian crisis has brought greater national and regional collaboration among churches and church-based relief organizations working with those who are forced to leave their home countries in search of safety.

PDA and World Mission staff recently visited IRCES to continue to work out practical details and to deepen understanding of the national and regional context of this new project.

 Tracey King-Ortega, World Mission’s Regional Liaison for Central America

Today’s Focus:  Refugees and Immigrants in El Salvador

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lemuel Garcia-Arroyo, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Debbie Gardiner, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray:

Lord, open our hearts and minds to the Spirit at all times. Help us to look and listen for opportunities to serve you. Ground us in the present; instill faith in us to face the future with hope and joy. Amen.

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