The Afghan Refugee Task Force of the Diocese of New Jersey is working on ways to partner with local refugee resettlement agencies in New Jersey. The Task Force is looking for lay volunteers to help with this work. Contact the Rev. Chase Danford to express your interest.
Underscoring the importance of this work, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has sent out this call to action to aid refugees:
My sisters and brothers,
“You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9)
As you well know, Episcopal Migration Ministries is one of the most direct and tangible ways that we embrace the invitation to become a Church that looks and acts like Jesus, by reaching out our hands in love to the dispossessed, displaced, exiled, and marginalized. For over four decades, in times of war, genocide, political persecution and upheaval, EMM has enabled the Church at all levels to welcome and care for God’s beloved children, supporting them on their journey as new Americans, our neighbors.
At this moment in history, we face an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, an emergency relocation of our Afghan allies. Like the other eight official resettlement agencies of the United States, Episcopal Migration Ministries and its network of 11 local affiliates face critical challenges. In normal times, refugee resettlement is a process that is lengthy and planned well in advance. This current crisis instead meets the definition of a disaster: a sudden event that has overwhelmed the resources of the resettlement community to respond, requiring external and additional support.
This is where EMM needs your help.
- Prayer. Refugee resettlement ministry includes professional staff, but also tens of thousands of volunteers, congregations, and community partners and stakeholders, who all come together to welcome and support our new neighbors. Click here for a prayer list.
- Volunteer support. To address the severe staffing shortages in the face of this crisis, we prayerfully ask for bishops to second deacons, diocesan staff, retired clergy, or other personnel to embed for a period of 1-3 months in an EMM affiliate office or within EMM’s churchwide headquarters staff. This secondment may occur virtually/remotely, in some circumstances. At present, one of the top identified needs is for individuals with volunteer coordination, project management, and community organizing experience. Interested and skilled individuals should email AfghanAllies@episcopalchurch.org, attaching their CV and briefly explaining their relevant experience.
- Financial support. In partnership with The Episcopal Church’s Office of Development, EMM has created the Neighbors Welcome: Afghan Allies Fund, recognizing that considerable funding is needed to support the housing, medical, legal, and other basic needs of the Afghan families we will welcome. We ask that you share this announcement and this bulletin insert with congregations, ministries, and affiliated organizations throughout your dioceses.
- Connection with churchwideupdates. During this time, EMM’s’ Church Engagement Team will convene weekly Zoom meetings on Thursdays at 2pm ET, beginning September 23, to offer updates on Afghan resettlement activities, as well as the ongoing work to welcome other displaced persons and rebuild its resettlement network by opening new affiliate offices. We request that at least one representative from each U.S. diocese of the Church attend these meetings. Deputized diocesan representatives should register here.
In the midst of unprecedented challenges, Episcopal Migration Ministries has already experienced a remarkable outpouring of support. On behalf of the EMM team, I thank you for your prayers, your support, and for circulating this information and these asks amongst your clergy, congregations, ministries, and affiliated organizations. And I remain,
Your brother in Christ,
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church