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Congregations Expand Afghan Refugee Resettlement Efforts: “Welcome Boxes” Provide Support to Newly Arrived Families

The Diocese of Western New York has long been active in refugee resettlement ministry, and with the expected arrival of 330 Afghan evacuees in the region, several congregations are stepping up their involvement.

The Rev. Barbara Price and Deacon Tom Tripp have both active in organizing financial support for Buffalo United for Afghan Evacuees, and Tripp says that donations are still urgently needed. The effort has raised $374,814 of its $750,000 goal.

Tripp, who serves at St. Peter’s, Eggertsville, is currently exploring a collaboration with Calvary, Williamsville, that could expand both congregations’ ability to support Afghan evacuees. Likewise, in the Genesee Deanery, Deacon Diana Leiker is exploring additional opportunities for St. Mark’s, LeRoy and St. James, Batavia to participate in refugee resettlement. Both congregations previously contributed to Buffalo United. An organizing meeting is scheduled to take place on November 1.

With recent announcement that about 200 Afghan evacuees will resettle in Erie, congregations in the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania are also encouraged to join the effort. The Rev. Twila Smith, canon for mission program on the partnership staff, has created an inventory for “welcome boxes” of household supplies that congregations can collect to welcome refugee and evacuee families beginning their lives in the United States. Smith is available to meet with  congregations via Zoom to help support refugee welcome ministries; email her to learn more.

Smith has also organized a series of online events, “Love God, Love Neighbors: Welcoming Evacuees and Refugees,” on November 8, 15 and 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Zoom. The series, which she will facilitate, will provide opportunities for theological reflection and action on refugee issues. Learn more by emailing Smith, and register by emailing Gabrie’l Atchison.

On November 4 at 3 p.m., Episcopal Migration Ministry and the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations will host a churchwide online webinar for leaders and congregations working to welcome Afghan evacuees. The event, titled “From Newcomers to Neighbors: Messaging and Best Practices for Building Welcoming Communities for Afghan Arrivals,” will include a panel discussion and time for questions. Register online.