[Episcopal Migration Ministries] I am so very pleased to know that the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration has approved the application for refugee resettlement in Charleston, West Virginia, submitted by Episcopal Migration Ministries on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia and West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry (WVIRM). West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry is a local coalition – a grass-roots, interfaith and cross-cultural association of some truly terrific people – which has worked hard over the recent months to tell the story of the welcoming hearts of their community. Thanks to the compassion and commitment of this group, the refugee resettlement program (which will begin its life as a program of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia) will also be known as West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry. Episcopal Migration Ministries is excited to add this affiliate to our network of thirty other sites across the country, as hundreds of community groups, churches, families and individuals work tirelessly to provide a place of safety for those who have had to flee their homes because of war, persecution, or other violence.
It is particularly heart-warming to me that this important step in the process of welcoming refugees comes as it does on the cusp of the commemoration and celebration of the birth of Jesus; for, as scripture tells us, it was not long afterward that he himself became a refugee. Just as I cannot even begin to imagine the fear in the hearts of Joseph and Mary as they fled for their lives, neither can I imagine the fear of modern refugees as they flee their own particular circumstances. But just as strangers in a far away land offered refuge to the Holy Family, so too will the people of West Virginia offer refuge to those in need today.
Episcopal Migration Ministries looks forward to the days ahead as we continue walking in partnership with WVIRM. There is still much work to be done, but this is a blessed day, indeed!
The Rev’d Canon E. Mark Stevenson
Director, Episcopal Migration Ministries
21 December 2016