The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) partnered with World Relief Durham yesterday (Sept. 23) to host an information session on serving immigrants and refugees. The session addressed assisting Afghan parolees and special immigrant visa holders resettling in North Carolina.
More than 30 pastors and church members from the Triangle area attended. Imago Dei Church in Raleigh hosted the event, according to a press release from World Relief.
Over the next six months, 1,169 Afghan refugees are projected to arrive in North Carolina, the News & Observer reported. World Relief Durham expects to resettle at least 80 refugees from Afghanistan in the next year, and about 300 from other countries. In addition to Raleigh and Durham, Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro and New Bern will also welcome refugees.
Tremayne Manson, World Relief Durham’s community engagement manager, presented a biblical context for framing immigration issues. He focused on God’s commands throughout scripture to show hospitality to strangers.
“Because God chooses to identify himself with foreigners and immigrants, it is an expression of our faith and an expectation of God’s people (the Church) to extend grace and hospitality to the foreign-born in our communities,” he said.
Manson explained World Relief’s mission to empower local churches to build welcoming communities. He shared ways for churches and individuals to get involved through advocacy, giving and volunteering. The organization offers immigration legal services, refugee resettlement and refugee and immigrant youth services.
“Our Christian faith compels us to seek justice and mercy for the vulnerable and suffering,” he said.
N.C. Baptists can advocate for refugee and immigrant neighbors by asking government leaders to push for compassionate and just immigration reform.
During the event, participants signed letters to Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, urging them to lead a bipartisan effort to protect immigrants in vulnerable situations. Groups include DACA recipients, temporary protected status recipients and essential workers.
Chuck Register, BSC associate executive director-treasurer, found the training helpful “as we focus on how we can minister to the nations that God is bringing to RDU (Raleigh-Durham).”
Zac Lyons, pastor for missions and evangelism at Imago Dei Church, added, “We’re super thankful for World Relief and for the opportunity to come alongside and love the nations who are coming to be our neighbors.”
The BSC has also worked with the Council on Immigrant Relations to open immigrant hospitality centers around the state that provide legal support to immigrants.