During its February meeting, the Session engaged in a thoughtful discussion about how we at UPC can reach out with hospitality to the refugees in our community. The Session approved the resolution found below. In March, the Adult Education Committee partnered with the Outreach Committee to offer three sessions discussing the We Choose Welcome Initiative. Through these discussions, the congregation continues to discern how the Spirit leads us to support refugees in our community. We invite you to join us in this effort!
Whereas, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor denominations have consistently called the church to welcome refugees in the name of Jesus. [This call began when the 160th General Assembly (1948) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America called for the resettlement of persons made refugees and displaced by World War II and continued through the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) statement calling the church to “respond to the ancient biblical directive to provide for the stranger and the sojourner.”[i]]; and
Whereas we are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.
(An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. [ii]); and
Whereas some voices are calling us to abandon the very foundations of our biblical faith to welcome the stranger and to give safe haven to the refugee, and to set aside the values of compassion and hospitality that have marked our historic identity as a nation;
Be it resolved, the Session of University Presbyterian Church, meeting on this 16th day of February 2017, decries any policy that discriminates against refugees by nationality, race, ethnicity or religion,
And further, endorses the January 28, 2017 statement by the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which states “We stand ready to welcome our new neighbors, friends, and family of all faiths and nations,”[iii]
And further, accepts the December 1, 2015, challenge issued by the Rev. Gradye Parsons, former Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), asking congregations to take a photograph with a “We Choose Welcome” banner and send the photo to their public officials,[iv]
And further, encourages the congregation to implore those elected officials to embrace the values of compassion and hospitality essential to our identity as a nation.
Ways to Be Involved
Next Steps in UPC’s Refugees Support Efforts (We Choose Welcome)
Our congregation continues to discern the call to support refugees in our community. A task force has organized the following ways to be a part of UPC’s continuing We Choose Welcome initiative:
- Refugee Support Team: During Punch on the Porch on June 11, you can sign up for UPC’s Refugee Support Team – a list of volunteers to perform discrete jobs on an as-needed basis (g., providing transportation to a doctor’s appointment). The team will support the activities of Refugee Community Partnership (RCP), a local refugee support organization (refugeecommunitypartnership.org). You can also sign up online at www.upcch.org/welcome.
- Banner Photograph: On June 25, following the 8:30 and 11:00 services, those who are interested may gather for a photo under the We Choose Welcome banner in front of the church. The photos will be posted on UPC’s website and social media.
- Sunday School: On August 13 and 20, we will offer two more Sunday School classes on refugee issues, including an introduction on August 20 to RCP’s Bridge Builders program, presented by Maddie Hayes, Director of RCP.
- Bridge Builders Training: On September 30, RCP will conduct a Bridge Builders training and orientation session at UPC for those who are interested in participating in the program. Through Bridge Builders, two-to-four families/individuals from UPC will be partnered with a local refugee family – with the expectation of developing a long-term relationship.
- Finally, a Service of Hospitality will be held in October.
All are invited to join the effort. Contact Reid Chisholm at (919) 260-0992 with any questions or interest in sharing your talent and time.