News cycles come and go, but challenges for people remain far beyond the news cycles and that is certainly true for those who continue to seek a new life in the United States. In December each UCC Conference received a $500 grant from Justice and Local Church Ministries to use to support the work in their conferences being done to support these important ministries. The dollars came from the Giving Tuesday in 2018 and in KO, an email soliciting information from churches with information on how this grant would might be used brought three responses.
- Fellowship in Tulsa is heavily involved with direct care of vulnerable migrant and asylum-seeking folks in Tulsa. Such monies would go to direct care for families missing primary breadwinners, for legal fees, transportation to/from hearings and to the dockets of those incarcerated at our local jail, for the purchase of needed personal items.
- Colonial in Prairie Village is hosting an event on Sunday, January 26 called Immigration 101 with a local immigration advocacy group. The follow-up to this event is an Immigration Vigil that we are hosting with other area congregation. The goal is to advocate for U Visas provided at the county or municipal level for undocumented residents to have access to services. This is a huge need in the area; in Wyandotte County it’s called Safe & Welcoming Wyandotte, and Colonial Church would like to see the effort extend to Johnson County.
- Plymouth Immigration& Refugee Alliance in Lawrence (PIRA) provides opportunities for Plymouth members to help create a friendly, safe, and supporting environment for our immigrant and refugee neighbors through awareness, advocacy, and assistance. This is a new organization (at least new to me and I’m a member at Plymouth) working to support the immigrant community in Lawrence. So far they are doing some direct support and advocacy of families.
The $500 check from the national Justice Witness Ministries was sent to Fellowship as the first church that responded to the email. AND $500 was also sent to Colonial as there was a Be the Church grant that had been authorized for Rosedale Church for a project related to immigration. Rosedale was unable to use the grant. The Be the Church Grant Committee authorized that the grant that was intended for an immigration related project be redirected to Colonial and Plymouth so the dollars were still be used for projects related to immigration.
Thanks to those in these congregations that are engaged in this ministry and thank you for your leadership that inspires, encourages and supports your members to do this important work.