Refugee Ministry Network Formed
Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. – Hebrews 13:2
By Roger Dahl
On August 5th, Collegiate Presbyterian Church in Ames hosted a meeting and discussion group that is destined to have a significant impact on how we work together in Christ to show God’s love to our own version of the “strangers” spoken of in Hebrews 13:2. Specifically, this meeting was designed to describe and begin working to accomplish the following objectives through a statewide “network” of Presbyterian Churches in Iowa, uniting to assist refugees.
- Present a united witness.
- Provide an opportunity for all churches, including those in small towns and rural areas, to be involved as much as they are able.
- To be able to respond, working together, more effectively and efficiently to meet the needs of refugees, working with the agencies that have been established throughout the state.
- To broaden the perspective of all Presbyterians, throughout Iowa, beyond our local communities, and culture, to engage in the needs and concerns of the world.
The meeting attracted attendance by almost 30 church representatives from throughout the Tri-Presbyteries and reflected a good cross section of churches that were experienced in refugee ministry as well as those who were new to this field. A representative cross section of churches from both small and large communities worked to develop interest, knowledge, and enthusiasm among attendees for a statewide Presbyterian Refugee Ministry Network and developed ideas about how such a network would be structured. In addition, a great deal of emphasis was placed on how we need to be flexible in our approach and allow congregations to be involved in ways and in a manner that is appropriate for them.
Discussion groups that focused on how the network could be structured yielded several recommendations for future study and action including the development of support materials to present the Refugee Ministry Network concept to congregations that are not yet involved and to seek input from refugee serving agencies to assure the Refugee Ministry Network supports and compliments their efforts.
The Steering Committee is working diligently on these recommendations and plans to hold a follow-up meeting for all interested congregations on September 24th from 2-4 p.m. in Boone. Additional information will be coming soon, but for now, please mark your calendars for the date and contribute your thoughts, wisdom, energy, experience, and prayer to this most important project.