First Church has a long history of refugee resettlement.
Beginning in the 1980’s with the Viet Nam refugees to our most recent settlement of an Iraqi family in 2013. While the face of the ministry has changed over the years, our mission has not.
The refugee resettlement ministry believes strongly in God’s call to care for those who are persecuted, those who are homeless, those who are hungry and in need. Our current refugee resettlement program consists of working closely with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven which is a part of Church World Service (CWS). CWS works on a global level, IRIS works on a regional level, and our committee works on a local level, closest with the family themselves. In addition, we work in partnership with our local synagogue, Temple Beth Tikvah to welcome immigrants in our communities.
For the past five years, we have acted as a co-sponsoring church in cooperation with IRIS. We accept the responsibility of caring for a family for approximately one year after their entry into the U.S. In April of 2013, the Hameed family from Iraqi came to Guilford to restart their lives with the help of our church. This family of five is adjusting well and they are very appreciative of those who volunteered their time to help make their transition easier.
The refugee resettlement committee is a working committee that meets and deals with all elements of a family’s resettlement when a family has been assigned to us. We as a church community and committee, decide when we are ready to commit to a family. Currently, we are not an active committee. When the church has the opportunity to commit to another family, then a committee is formed, money is raised and IRIS helps us to find an appropriate family to assist. Refugee Ministry is an amazing opportunity to live out the scriptures’ message of taking care of the homeless and persecuted. On a daily basis, you feel the power of God helping you though the maze of resettlement. It is a challenging, but incredibly rewarding experience.