In the 1940s, the Christian Church designated the ‘Wartime Service Fund’ to respond to the multiple humanitarian crises created by World War II. Out of that initial response, Week of Compassion was formed, and the partners and relationships rooted in that work continue to address the needs of refugees and displaced persons around the globe. Eight decades later, there are more refugees and displaced persons than at any other time in our global history. As climate crisis persists, the world deals with pandemic/endemic reality, and national/international conflicts carry on, the crisis grows daily. Channels of support are increasingly complex, and the response of the faith community is more important than ever. In Matthew 25, Jesus draws on his own Jewish heritage, repeating God’s insistence that we welcome the stranger. To welcome in his name welcomes Christ himself. Millions of refugees have resettled in the United States over the years, most assisted by faith communities, living out the call of Christ, to provide radical welcome and hospitality to all of God’s children.
Where do we start?
Refugee resettlement involves a variety of entry points for congregations and individuals, at any capacity of time and resource. Those willing to respond can connect, advocate, give, and prepare to welcome refugees, whether or not a crisis is present. Week of Compassion provides support and resources, connects you to your closest resettlement office, and accompanies you as you do the work to be ready when family resettlement is needed.
PREPARE: Contact Rev. Alan Dicken, Associate Director for Immigrant and Refugee Response, to learn more about how your congregation can welcome refugees to your local community, connect to your closest resettlement office, or take steps to support sponsoring congregations.
In an effort to expand our support for congregations engaged in refugee, asylum-seeker, and immigrant support, this grant is designed for Disciples congregations that are a part of NAPAD, La Obra Hispana, and National Convocation. Congregations may have an existing refugee ministry, or an idea for a new venture, that can benefit from grant support.
This grant focuses on ministries that might be outside the usual ‘refugee response’, creating avenues for congregations who are establishing innovative ways to address the concerns and needs of the refugee, migrant, and immigrant communities.
Multiple phases of care and response have unfolded since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces in February 2022. The immediate response with partners was critical, and plans and programs are shifting toward the long-term recovery and resettlement work that will take place over the next several months and even years. Timelines continue to unfold while the war carries on and needs constantly shift. The needs of the Ukrainian people continue to emerge, and our partners continue to work locally to build and support structures in place to care for internally displaced persons and refugees in this crisis.
We know it added pressure right away on the resettlement community - already scrambling to serve tens of thousands of Afghans; dealing with the possibility and hope of resettling up to 125,000 other refugees from around the world who have been waiting far too long; and now millions of Ukrainians. As the situation continues to unfold in Ukraine, we will be finding ways to empower congregations engaged in the work of refugee support.
Week of Compassion provides Afghan Welcome congregational support grants to encourage and strengthen Disciples churches in welcoming Afghans to communities across the U.S., in partnership with their local resettlement agencies. This grant can be used for congregational ministries that help with food assistance, rent, or any other essentials. Grants range from $500-$2,000.
Zaatari refugee camp (Syrian), near Mafraq, Jordan. Paul Jeffrey / ACT Alliance
Ongoing Refugee Response
Even after many years, Week of Compassion remains attentive to the people of Syria, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, among others. Week of Compassion continues to respond, through our global and ecumenical partners, for the sake of the affected communities, and as their stories will affect the needs and responses of resettlement work in the United States.
Week of Compassion works in relationship. Through various partners, including Global Ministries and Church World Service, we help displaced people find hope, opportunity, community, and most importantly, the promise of a better future. Through our relationships with these and other partners, we support advocacy and legal support for immigrants and resettled families, to be present in many places around the world where those fleeing violence and persecution can find new life.
Week of Compassion P.O. Box 1986 Indianapolis, IN 46206
Week of Compassion is the relief, refugee and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.