[Episcopal Migration Ministries] The election season that has just drawn to a close has highlighted a great divide in our country – maybe, more accurately, many divisions both great and small. Fear and hope have been the two sides of a coin that has spun in the air for months, and an anxious America has waited to see which face would land “up” on the field at the end of the day. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in all of this is that, as a people, we do not even agree on which face is “hope” and which is “fear.” This tragedy is something with which we will struggle for many days to come.
Episcopal Migration Ministries, like all groups who work with refugees, understands struggle. We have been welcoming refugees since the late 1930s, as families and individuals from all walks of life were forced to flee Nazi Europe because of their faith or political views. Over the years, our churches, our parishioners, and our partners have welcomed thousands upon thousands of refugees into this country. And now, as we face the largest refugee crisis that the world has seen since World War II, we are more than ready and willing to step up and do our part in the United States’ historical role as a leader in refugee resettlement. This is work that is neither easy nor simple; it is not without controversy or struggle. It is, however, a choice of hope over fear.
In the coming days we will work to strengthen our partnerships with the thirty local agencies in 26 Episcopal dioceses and 22 states that make up our resettlement network. We will find new and exciting ways to walk alongside the other eight national resettlement agencies and their networks of affiliate sites. We will draw strength from the skills and passions of volunteers and professionals alike who work with refugees, and we will offer our skills and passions to them in return. We will get creative, and invitational, and inspirational. We will walk with the refugees who find new life in this land as they travel the greatest and most joy-filled journey imaginable – becoming an American. We will build community.
The community we will build will unleash the power and productivity of America. We will invite new volunteers into our work, and we will equip new Americans from distant shores to live out the dream made famous here and named for this place, the dream that was itself made possible for all of us by the millions of refugees and immigrants who have come before. We will teach, and we will tell stories, and we will lift up the successes and the gifts that others will bring to us.
Episcopal Migration Ministries welcomes our new President, our new Congress, and the full breadth and depth of a new government into this work. We are certain that as they experience refugee resettlement as we have, they will come to know the hope that refugees bring to this great country. The struggle will always be present in this work, but division need not be.
As a ministry of The Episcopal Church, we are guided by the sure knowledge that we are all children of God. Our faith tells us we are bound to one another in compassion and love. We are called by the Gospel to welcome. We are called by our creator to know hope for a better tomorrow for all.
The Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson
Director, Episcopal Migration Ministries