My name is Sarah Zuniga, and I am an intern of the Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director of Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM).
I’m writing to you as a Regional Minister on behalf of our Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries office (now located inside National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C.) and the Director to be sure you have heard that Disciples are holding a “Refugee & Immigrant Welcome Sunday” on June 18th (or any other Sunday around that time). Our Disciples celebrations are a part of a national effort by all of the denominations that are members of Church World Service and National Council of Churches, as we together in March signed an “Ecumenical Declaration” in support of refugees and immigrants. One part of our commitment in the declaration is to have each denomination hold a special emphasis Sunday on Refugees sometime in the near months.
You can see the Declaration, as well as further information about our Refugee & Immigrant Welcome Sunday resources for congregations and regions here: https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/refugee-immigration-ministries/refugee-immigrant-welcome-sunday/
I also wanted to highlight that Church World Service is offering a FREE 3 x 6 foot Refugees Welcome or “We’re Glad You’re Here” banner to the first 20 congregations/regions (of any denomination) around the country who sign up to hold some type of “refugees welcome” event during June or another date coming soon. (I’ve pasted in these designs below.) We would love for your region, or a church within your area, to access this special gift—and we certainly hope to have a number of churches participating in lifting up welcome for and voices of refugees and immigrants in this important time! In addition to our Disciples resources offered for Refugee & Immigrant Welcome Sunday, I also invite you to go to this page: https://greateras1.org/act/congregations/ to see Church World Service’s info. about refugee/immigrant welcoming event materials.
Likewise, I wanted to introduce to you a “Welcome Families DOC Stories” project that we have going on currently. We are gathering stories on the following Google Doc, in hopes of making posters/booklets for sharing stories at General Assembly and in other ways. Here’s the link to the doc: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeLJA8XCKrN4v3kCGxvk9wbCpbJrF2L4XleGCNrkPr8mR5mYg/viewform?c=0&w=1.
These stories could be a wide range of topics. Perhaps there is an immigrant or refugee leader in your community that would like to share their story. A friend or ally of refugees and immigrants within a Disciples congregation may have a story to share about what building connections with refugees and immigrants has meant to them. There are so many wonderful stories that are within our Disciples community that we would love to highlight and preserve. I would love to connect with you or anyone in your region that you could connect me with that might be willing to share their stories and experiences. We understand that confidentiality is a concern, and we want to PROTECT CONFIDENTIALITY in any way we can to make the person or family feel most comfortable, whether that means limiting or changing names, locations, and so on. Questions regarding confidentiality can be brought to me or to Rev. Dr. Stanley-Rea, who is CC’d in this email.
Throughout the next week or two, I will be making phone calls to each of you for our Stories project. Any contacts that you would be willing to connect me with would be most appreciated. The Google Doc link, as shown above, is also provided in case a person or family wishes to tell their story, but would prefer to share discreetly and not via phone or email. If you have stories or contacts that you are willing to share, or have any questions, feel free to email me at [email protected].
Finally, I wanted to make sure you knew we’ll be having a resolution called “On Becoming Immigrant Welcoming Congregations” at General Assembly this July 9-13 in Indianapolis. Here’s the link to the resolution: https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/GA-1723-On-Becoming-Immigrant-Welcoming-Congregations.pdf. We’re also having a Saturday afternoon “Rally 4 Family Justice” to help kick off the Assembly, and we’ll be lifting up refugee and immigrant welcome there, as well. If you know of others coming connected with your region’s welcoming work, please let me know—as I’d love to meet and thank them for their work!
All the best to you and the region. Thanks for all you do, and I look forward to hearing from you!