Yesterday, five folks from BPC, Glade Church, and the Unitarian Congregation sat around a table over on Innovation Drive. We were there to talk about the possibility of joining together to sponsor a refugee family from Syria. What would be involved? What kind of family might arrive? What sort of financial commitment would it take? How many volunteers would be needed and what sorts of things would volunteers do?
A phone conversation with a staff member of Catholic Charities in Roanoke who works with refugees had been pre-arranged. His office coordinates with the federal government, who vet refugees who have applied for admission to the U.S. The families come with a small stipend. They spend two weeks undergoing orientation to the U.S. before arriving in their new communities. Finding housing and employment for at least one adult are the top priorities, closely followed by English lessons, and volunteers willing to drive family members to countless appointments that come with a move to another country. We listened and asked questions, then asked more questions, then made a list of next steps.
One of those next steps is identifying who else in the area might want to partner with us. The North Main Mosque is aware of our interest. There has already been some interest in sponsoring Syrian refugees at the United Methodist Church. We are following up to see if they would like to join forces. It turns out there is an international student group at Tech that works with refugees. They might be interested, too, and might provide some needed translations skills early on or other help.
But what about our own churches? Is there support and interest? BPC has been involved with refugees before; which means there is some experience to benefit from and lots of memories, some good and some not so good! We are hoping to invite our Catholic Charities guide to come and speak to anyone who might want to learn more a month from now on Wednesday, July 13th at 7:00 p.m. We will keep you posted in case there is a shift in the date and to let you know about the location. That way you can come and ask all your questions, too.
Scripture Readings for Sunday, June 19: Psalm 32; James 5:13-16
The Prayer List can be found here.