Trinity’s What Can One Person Do group is leading a local inter-faith refugee resettlement ministry in partnership with Newtown Congregational Church, the Baha’i faith community of Newtown, the Newtown Church of Jesus Christ of LDS (Mormons), the Al Hedaya Muslim Community and Mosque, and potentially a couple of other local faith communities in the greater Newtown area. This group is working with an organization called IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) with plans to help resettle a refugee family in the greater Newtown area in the coming months.
While exploring this ministry, Trinity’s WCOPD group was stunned to learn that currently there are 60 million displaced persons in our world, with 20 million of them considered refugees since they had to leave their homes due to war, persecution, or unsafe living conditions. Of the 20 million refugees in our world, 4.5 million are from Syria alone. Currently, the US accepts about 70,000 displaced persons per year, with about 500 persons per year being placed in Connecticut. In light of the current unprecedented immigrant crisis, IRIS has been asked to double the number of displaced persons that it will resettle in Connecticut this year. They are reaching out to congregations like Trinity to step up and lend a hand to one of these refugee families.
There are many reasons the WCOPD group felt compelled to launch this inter-faith refugee resettlement ministry at Trinity in partnership with other faith communities. One of the strongest reasons is that there are numerous passages in our Scriptures urging us to have compassion for the “stranger” and “alien” among us:
The LORD your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t take bribes. He enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19 CEB)
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34 ESV)
One of the aspects of this ministry that provides the WCOPD group with a good deal of confidence is that IRIS has been resettling refugees here in Connecticut for many years. IRIS was founded in 1982 as an outreach program by Episcopal Church of CT. IRIS resettles approximately 200 refugees each year from Afghanistan, Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and other countries.
Interfaith Partnership for Refugee Resettlement