From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Episcopal Migration Ministries help resettle refugees

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Thu, 7 Aug 2003 18:26:11 -0400

August 7, 2003

by Sharon Sheridan
Convention Daily 
[ENS] Episcopal Migration Ministries takes seriously the message "The
Episcopal Church Welcomes You."

At a program co-hosted by the Center for Victims of Torture, EMM
highlighted the work of parishes in resettling refugees. The program
featured two members of a Liberian family and two members of St. Mark's
Cathedral in Minneapolis, which resettled them.

"Both bore witness to the fact that this had been an incredible,
enriching experience for them and for St. Mark's," said EMM Director
Richard Parkins.

Several other Liberians have visited this General Convention, including
the bishop and the president of Cuttington University College, which the
Episcopal Church founded.

Resettling churches become sources of hospitality, comfort and healthy
new beginnings for refugees, who often lose their senses of trust,
confidence and hope as they lose their homes, countries and sometimes
families, Parkins said. Churches foster the beginning of a process of
reconciliation in which refugees begin to see that people can love them
and be trusted and start to regain control of their lives, he said.

Security concerns since Sept. 11, 2001, have cut drastically the number
of refugees EMM and other resettlement agencies rescue, Parkins said. In
2002, he said, the United States admitted 26,000 refugees, although
70,000 could have been admitted under the ceiling passed before Sept.
11, he said. EMM settled 1,100 to 1,200 that year, compared with an
average of 3,000 to 3,500 in years past. Ten years ago, the United
States admitted 132,000 refugees in one year, he said.

Concerns about this and other refugee issues, including the detention of
asylum seekers, prompt EMM to encourage parishes to advocate for
refugees as well as resettle them, he said.

While all refugees experience trauma, some also are torture victims,
Parkins said. The Center for Victims of Torture, which has its main
training program in Minnesota, provides the sort of healing services
that resettling parishes can't, Parkins said. In West Africa, the center
does much work with torture victims from Sierra Leone and Guinea and
even trains former victims to become counselors, he noted. Episcopal
Relief and Development and the United Thank Offering both have supported
the center, he said.

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