The Welcome Continues: Neighbor to Neighbor
Episcopal Migration Ministries’ (EMM) mission is a simple one. It is grounded in our faith and invites us to act as the hands and feet of Jesus as we welcome sojourners to a place of safety. Since the 1980s, EMM has welcomed and resettled more than 100,000 refugees through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. In 2021, EMM welcomed individuals from 24 countries to 12 communities across the U.S.
One of the ways EMM fulfills its mission is by encouraging partnerships from parishes and community partners through its Neighbor to Neighbor (NtN) program. Through NtN, EMM directly trains and provides ongoing support to faith communities who serve as community sponsors for asylum seekers (called Track 1) or Afghan arrivals (called Track 2), in partnership with the Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans.
Community sponsors welcome their new neighbors by offering friendship, fostering community connections, and providing practical support such as housing, assistance in accessing services and navigating the community, enrolling children in school, supporting adults in learning English and securing employment, and more.
In response to the Biden Administration’s recent announcement that the U.S. will admit 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia, EMM stands ready to help, and will soon do its part to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the war through NtN. Already, EMM has assisted 420 Ukrainian refugees to the U.S. through the Lautenberg Program. The program, which initially began in 1990 to resettle Jews from the former Soviet Union, is a family reunification program that allows certain individuals to bring their family members to the U.S. through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
EMM’s invitation to action is extended to communities through the Sponsorship Circle program. If a parish community feels called to welcome new arrivals, the first step is to discern the readiness of the parish. By completing an initial interest form, the parish community is prompted to consider the challenges, commitment, and welcome they can offer.
A successful discernment process results in a detailed 90-day plan to welcome new arrivals. The plan includes housing, schooling, initial financial support, and is tailored to the needs of their new neighbors. The first step is the most important one, because by filling out the initial program interest form, EMM can harness its resources in service to the mission, our new neighbors, and the communities welcoming them.
To learn more about Sponsorship Circles and start your Neighbor to Neighbor journey, go to iam.ec/neighbortoneighbor and listen to the “Home Town” podcast episode titled “Sponsoring Welcome: A Conversation about Neighbor to Neighbor and Community Sponsorship.”