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Certainty in Uncertain Times

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In 2020, it seems like the only thing certain is that things are uncertain. Surely the word “unprecedented” will be the most-used word of the year.

In these unprecedented times of uncertainty, we at West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry are thankful for the certainty that our donors support us in our mission: “striving to improve the lives of refugees.” Charitable gifts throughout this year have provided sustenance for our mission, allowing us to offer a peaceful safe haven for families literally running for their lives.

Although the pandemic has restricted how we provide services, it has given us time to discover creative ways to fulfill our mission and plan for the future. Given upcoming changes at the federal level, we are optimistic that 2021 will provide many opportunities to shine a spotlight on the worldwide refugee crisis and offer services to those who have been forced to flee their homes. 

#GivingTuesday, a national day of generosity, is just one week away on December 1.

As #GivingTuesday approaches, many have asked how they can help. 

  • You can click the Donate tab on our website (www.wvirm.com). There you will find a link to the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia. Click the Donate button below “For a Specified Use.” Please be sure to note that your gift is for WVIRM. 
  • You can also mail a check to WVIRM at PO Box 5387, Charleston, WV 25361. 

Please put #GivingTuesday, December 1, on your calendar and consider participating in this national day of philanthropy. With your help, West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry will continue to be a place of safety and hope for the least of these. 

NO IMMEDIATE MIRACLES

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People of a certain age remember President Gerald Ford’s economic recovery plan: Whip Inflation Now (WIN). Ford’s press secretary, Ron Nessen, turned the acronym upside down to indicate the public should not expect an immediate miracle.

In the same vein, despite President-elect Joe Biden’s statements that he will reverse President Trump’s restrictive immigration policies, we should not expect immediate miracles. While much of President Trump’s policies were implemented by Executive Orders, which can be reversed immediately, more subtle restrictions have been implemented by changes in rules and regulations to statutes related to immigration. 

For example, over the past year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued notices of public rulemaking related to, among other issues, increasing filing fees for some court petitions, shortening time limits and bases for claiming asylum, requiring persons who arrive at the border with Mexico and claim asylum to make that claim in a third country, and barring entry into this country because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these changes are being litigated in federal courts across the country. However, the litigation process is not swift, and rule changes that have been implemented, unless overturned by a court, must go through another period of notice and comment.

What does that mean to we who advocate on behalf of refugees and others seeking asylum?

Be ever vigilant. 

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9, NIV). 

World Food Day, 10/16/2020

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 Each year on October 16, advocacy and faith-based organizations recognize World Food Day, established by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1979. Themes for the day in the past have been:

  • 2016 – “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”
  • 2017 – Examining “the link between food security, rural development and migration.”
  • 2018 – Zero Hunger: Our Actions are our Future.
  • 2019 – “Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World.”

This year’s theme is “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.” http://www.fao.org/world-food-day

 Here are some suggestions from the FAO for taking action to achieve the 2020 goal of “grow, nourish, sustain”:

  • Choose local. Buy as much as you can from local farmers, not “big box” stores. 
  • Choose seasonal. Buying produce in season results in less carbon emissions due to businesses’ trucking in food from overseas.
  • Choose healthy and diverse. “A healthy diet contributes to a healthy life. When we choose to eat diverse foods, we encourage a variety of foods to be produced. This is not only healthier for our bodies, but heathier for soils and our environment because a diverse diet favors biodiversity!” 
  • Grow your own. 

According to the World Hunger organization, there are 815 million hungry people in the world today.htps://www.worldhunger.org/world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-and-statistics/

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change links climate change with global hunger. https://unfccc.int/ 

Results of climate change, such as extreme weather events, land degradation and desertification, water scarcity and rising sea levels, undermine global efforts to eradicate hunger. Crop failure and famine, drought and natural disasters, caused by climate change, are among the leading causes of migration.

One way of tackling the global migration and refugee crisis is by working toward a more just food system. This is a biblical commandment:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.”

Leviticus 19:9-10

WVIRM calls on people of faith and those who believe in moral accountability to work now and in the future for a just food system. 

Welcoming Week Schedule

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No matter your interests, we have something for you during Welcoming Week, September 12-20, 2020. From discussions on how to create a welcoming environment for all, to songs and stories from across the globe, to cooking demonstrations – if you want it, we probably have it.

Each day begins with a prayer or blessing from local faith leaders, both clergy and lay. Throughout the day, we will post videos on social media related to the theme of the day. Join us on our Facebook Page.

9/12/2020 #WVWelcomesYou

Opening Kickoff by Welcoming America. Kick off Welcoming Week with us by joining our free, livestream event featuring exciting music, dance performances, inspiring personal stories, and more! Livestream event at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

9/13/2020 #LoveYourNeighbor

Who is my neighbor? How are you informed by your religious, moral or ethical beliefs? Join the discussion using these hashtags: #WelcomingAmerica #CreatingHomeTogether #LoveYourNeighbor

9/14/2020 #Family

Share a picture of your family using the hashtags #WelcomingAmerica  #CreatingHomeTogether. #Family

9/15/2020 #HomeIs

Interactive experience at Taylor Books (noon), moving to Capital Market at 1:00. Fill in the blank “Home is ______” with words or pictures. Post on our traveling art board. Can’t get downtown? Comment on our Facebook page, using the hashtags:  #WelcomingAmerica  #CreatingHomeTogether  #HomeIs

9/16/2020 #Cuisine

Follow cooking videos by West Virginia’s immigrants and their descendants. Share your own recipes or experiences. How does food, eating together, define your family, your culture? Share on social media.  #WelcomingAmerica  #CreatingHomeTogether  #Cuisine

9/17/2020 #CreatingHomeTogether

West Virginia Council of Churches Interfaith Prayer Service at noon, Mary Price Ratrie Greenspace
Panel Discussion, Facebook Live, 7:00 p.m. Panelists: Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, Bishop, Diocese of West Virginia; Rabbi Joe Blair, Temple Israel, Charleston, WV; Ibtesam Sue Barazi, Vice-President, Islamic Association of West Virginia; Rev. Michael Farmer, Risen City Church, Charleston, WV; Paola Garcia, DACA recipient. Pose your questions to the panelists.

9/18/2020 #Vote

Refugees, asylum seekers, and some immigrants do not have the right to vote. Vote for those who can’t. #WelcomingAmerica  #CreatingHomeTogether  #Vote

9/19/2020 #Awareness

How much do you know about immigration issues? Educate yourself on our website or Facebook page.  #WelcomingAmerica  #CreatingHomeTogether  #Awareness

9/20/2020 #StoryandSong

Listen to bilingual children’s books, posted on our social media pages. St. Marks United Methodist Church Quartet and Steel Drums featured throughout the day. #WelcomingAmerica  #CreatingHomeTogether  #StoryAndSong

West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry thanks these partners for their support:

  • Welcoming America
  • ACLU WV
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia
  • Islamic Association of West Virginia
  • Justice and Advocacy Committee, WV Conference, The United Methodist Church
  • Elizabeth Memorial United Methodist Church, Charleston, WV
  • St. Marks United Methodist Church, Charleston, WV
  • West Virginia Council of Churches