West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry (WVIRM)
We are a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy and laypersons who have come together for the purpose of helping refugees, in light of the current crisis in Syria and other places around the world that has displaced millions of people. We are located in Charleston, West Virginia.
Our goal is to educate elected officials and laypersons about:
(I) interfaith understanding
(ii) the current crisis and the process of refugee resettlement
(iii) what kind of volunteer opportunities are available and what help is needed
West Virginia Friends of Syrian Refugees (WVFSR)
We are a group of concerned citizens in Morgantown and Charleston, with paid staff funded by the WV Syrian American Medical Society.
What have WVFSR and WVIRM done so far?
- Connected with outreach/education including English as a Second Language Programs at WV State and Garnett Career Center.
- Identified additional resources to partner with: Workforce WV and temporary agencies for jobs assistance, educational opportunities at all levels, counseling and after school programs.
- Compiled a job inventory in both Charleston and Morgantown.
- Compiled a directory of over 100 volunteers – individuals, churches, synagogues and mosques who are ready to help sponsor refugee families selected by Catholic Charities and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Service for resettlement of refugees in WV.
How did WVIRM and WVFSR get organized?
WVIRM formed in October 2015 when a number of religious leaders representing Christian, Muslim and Jewish congregations joined with other community leaders to work together to bring greater understanding of the plight of the Syrian refugees to West Virginians and their leaders.
October 2015: WVIRM held an informational webinar at St. John’s Episcopal Church regarding the refugee vetting and resettlement process. Over 150 people of all faiths attended and over 100 signed up to volunteer and learn more.
November 2015: Sent a letter, signed by over 100 people of many faiths, urging elected officials to allow resettlement of properly vetted Syrians and other refugees in WV.
November 2015: WVFSR held a rally in Morgantown and Charleston on Nov. 25. The rally was attended by over 300 West Virginians, showing that the welcoming hearts of West Virginians are strong.
December 4, 2015: A meeting with political leaders was held at St. John’s Episcopal Church to discuss refugee issues. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelly Moore Capito, representatives from the offices of Congressman Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins, as well as Dr. Carolyn Stuart, from the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs and a representative from City of Charleston Mayor’s office attended, among others.
December 7, 2015: The Islamic Association of WV and the Women for Peace and Understanding hosted an Interfaith gathering: “Get to know your Neighbors.” Over 300 people attended the event and came to learn about the commonalities among the Abrahamic Religions.
What are they doing now?
Currently, WVIRM and WVFSR are planning to host an Interfaith Harmony Event that would extend over 3 weeks. The event would include a spiritual, cultural and practical application reception, a questions sessions on religious dialogue and diversity and “Ask a Muslim/Christian/Hindu/Jew” events, to be held in Charleston, Beckley, Huntington, Parkersburg and Morgantown.