We love to highlight the inspiring and impactful work with refugees and immigrants being undertaken by Lutheran churches across the nation. LIRS recently spoke with Pastor Clint Schnekloth of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, to hear how his church is working hard to welcome immigrants and refugees into the community.
LIRS: Pastor Clint, how have you, or people in your congregation, extended a hand to newcomers?
Pastor Clint: We are an incredibly welcoming congregation, and we find all kinds of ways to welcome newcomers. Our church was founded as a church to meet the needs of ELCA Lutherans who moved to NWA (North West Arkansas) for work. Our “brand” of Lutheran isn’t native to Arkansas, so many of us are cultural immigrants, even if we aren’t national immigrants. So our church has a lot of practice at welcoming the newcomer.
In my last call, I helped Madison, Wisconsin become a secondary resettlement site for refugees. I would love for Fayetteville to become a federal resettlement center for refugees. In the meantime, we are asking ourselves how we can provide more ministries, or connect more successfully, with the growing Latino population in Fayetteville, perhaps start a multicultural ministry in Springdale, and connect more intentionally with international students and other immigrants in NWA.
LIRS: What do you think most people don’t know about immigrants and refugees?
Pastor Clint: That they aren’t strange. Immigrants and refugees hope for what we hope for: stability, connection to family, friends, good work, a faith community, a friendly smile. And that anyone, absolutely anyone, can be a cultural broker and friend to immigrants and refugees. All it takes is time, and a willing heart. Lead with a smile. Lead with love.