Along with ELCA AMMPARO, Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS) and other partners, the Task Force works to support and advocate for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. We encourage our synod churches to become “Welcoming Congregations”
LUTHERAN IMMIGRATION & REFUGEE SERVICE (LIRS), one of 9 US resettlement agencies, has been spearheading a drive to help with the Afghan situation. LIRS has already assisted 9,000 Afghan Special Immigration Visa (SIV) holders. This website gives information on advocacy, prayer, donating and volunteering, https://lirsconnect.org/get_involved/action_center/siv. On this site, we can volunteer as individuals or as groups to help Afghans in their resettlement. www.Lirs.org
ASYLUM SEEKER SPONSORSHIP PROJECT
There is a great need for congregations to sponsor asylum seekers coming through our US southern border.
ELCA AMMPARO has initiated the Asylum Seeker Sponsorship Project for ELCA congregations & partners to sponsor asylum seeker families, couples and individuals. Pastor Allyson Pryor, Assistant to the Bishop in SW Texas Synod, shares that asylum seekers from detention centers & border shelters have criminal background checks and Covid tests and are then released on the streets, literally. About 20% of asylum seekers have no families to sponsor them. The asylum seekers may be from Central America, South America, Africa or Asia.
Sponsoring these asylum seekers means providing housing, food, clothing, incidentals, medical care, transportation and legal services. Most of the asylum seekers now have to wait 365 days before their lawyer can apply for work authorization. Congregations also must have the capacity to raise funds for this sponsorship.
As people of faith, we are guided by God’s imperative to “Welcome the Stranger.” Abraham & Sarah, Naomi & Ruth, and even Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, among other Biblical characters, all had to flee their lands. And some of our own grandparents & great grandparents, might have, also. We, as Lutherans, have a long history of Welcoming the Stranger. Since its founding in 1939, Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Services has welcomed over 500,000 immigrants. Perhaps you were also a part of this resettlement process.
Mary Campbell, project director of AMMPARO, wants ELCA congregations first to be Welcoming Congregations which shows a commitment to physically & spiritually welcome migrants, pray for them & prayerfully consider doing advocacy for migrants. A congregational vote is not needed for this. Click here for the form and here for a PowerPoint about Welcoming Congregations in our Synod. Congregations must do or have done racial justice & cross-cultural work. Getting church approval to explore this sponsorship is a first step.
In our Synod we have congregations that are going through this sponsorship with a family and those who are exploring this sponsorship.
Chairperson: Doreen Rinas,
Pastor Juliet Bongfeldt
Pastor Rebecca Bourret
Pastor David Rinas
Pastor Steven Wilco