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Nov 09, 2015 | Deboran Stein

Church Partnerships in Resettlement Ministry Date to End of WWII

Not since World War II has there been so many people seeking refuge, fleeing violence, poverty and instability in their home countries. The origins of Episcopal Migration Ministries’ affiliate network may be traced to EMM’s very beginnings. In 1946, the Episcopal Church partnered with 16 Protestant denominations to found Church World Service as the overseas relief and service arm of the National Council of Churches of Christ.  



Until 1988, the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief helped to resettled refugees. In 1988, a new entity, Episcopal Migration Ministries, took up the resettlement work.  As a new and small national resettlement agency, economies of scale created opportunities to continue partnership with Church World Service in establishing EMM’s own affiliate network of local resettlement sites.  



The biblical imperative to reach out in love to the stranger in our midst and to see ourselves in one another motivated the expansion of ecumenical partnerships in the mid-1990’s to include Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service as a joint national partner in local resettlement.  The number of EMM’s joint affiliates increased greatly in this period, as did the number of affiliates who were solely resettling refugees through EMM.  Affiliates are usually established through contractual partnership with a local faith-based, non-profit organization, which enters into relationship with EMM to carry out services to newly-arriving refugees and to engage local churches and the broader community in welcoming them.  EMM considers many factors in determining the suitability of the potential affiliate and the local community to receive refugees, such as availability of affordable housing, access to entry-level employment, capacity for linguistically and culturally relevant staffing, and appropriate local community services among many other criteria.  



The US Department of State, Bureau for Populations, Refugees and Migration (PRM), which funds and regulates the United States Refugee Admissions Program and the Reception and Placement services implemented by EMM and the other eight national resettlement agencies, ultimately reviews proposals for any new resettlement sites and has final approval. 



Nevertheless, there are numerous opportunities for churches and individuals to engage in resettlement ministry either through one of our 30 local affiliate partners, or where EMM is not present, through one of the over 300 refugee resettlement offices across the United States.  For more information on how you can connect to this life-saving ministry, please contact Allison Duvall, EMM Manager for Church Relations and Engagement  .



Stein is director of Episcopal Migration Ministries.