St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, North Dakota will host a Thanksgiving dinner this month for refugees in partnership with the LSS of North Dakota. It will be the third year that St. Mark’s will host a dinner for newly arrived refugees, and this year’s goal is to help the mainly Somali and Nepali refugee population integrate into the local community.
“The congregation cares about getting recently arrived refugees into the community,” says St. Mark’s staff member, Sandy Buchmann. “Our hope is that the dinner makes them feel more comfortable in our midst.”
The Thanksgiving dinner is a big project for the church and involves most of the men’s ministry to prepare the meal for about 100 refugees, including parents and children. The women’s ministry makes gift bags for the kids, the quilting group provides a quilt to give away, and volunteers drive refugees from their homes to the event.
According to Tara Dupper of the Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, many of the volunteers who drove people home last year were invited in for tea. “A lot of real connections were made in this act of hospitality that led to long-term involvement between the congregation and the new Americans,” she says.
Feedback from refugees and church members has been positive. Refugee families appreciated meeting people in their new town, while members take the opportunity to participate in the mission of welcome, learn about the cultures of the refugees, and have their children interact with each other.
We know you’ll join LIRS in celebrating St. Mark’s Lutheran Church for planning this encouraging and inspiring initiative!