Welcoming Each Newcomer

Rebuilding Hope, November 2015 edition
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Memorial Drive Lutheran Church is providing 50 backpacks a month to help immigrant families released from detention centers.

Memorial Drive Lutheran Church is providing 50 backpacks a month to help immigrant families released from detention centers.

Memorial Drive Lutheran Church in Houston, TX has a history of social justice activism. This year, the church turned its attention to the rising number of immigrant mothers and children in Texas who have been held in immigration detention.

They learned that families are released from detention with nothing but the clothes they wore to cross the border. Many of these families must travel across the country to join family members while they seek asylum. To help them on their journey, Memorial Drive Lutheran Church began to support a Backpack Ministry, providing backpacks with basic supplies for families released from detention.

In order to continue this important work, Memorial Drive Lutheran Church celebrated Refugee Sunday by dedicating their event to aiding and learning about immigrant families. Ronald Richter describes his church’s dedication to the rights of migrants and refugees and how his congregation worked together to hold a successful Refugee Sunday.

When we saw the request by LIRS to hold a Refugee Sunday, we presented a message that covered the history of our church as advocates for immigrants and the urgent need to support women and children being released from detention centers. Our presentation focused on the process of applying for political asylum in the United States. We also described the conditions in the detention centers and the need for the congregations’ help in providing backpacks for the women and children released from detention.

A visit to Interfaith Welcome Coalition of San Antonio (IWC) revealed that the number of people released had increased and there was no constant committed supply of backpacks. Funding was needed now to address the situation. Our church decided to provide 50 backpacks per month, which would be offset by fundraising participation from the greater Houston community.

To date, Memorial Drive Lutheran Church has collected $2,300 and has held three events with adults and children from the church to prepare 50 backpacks. Also, they were included in the blessing of the backpacks before being delivered to Interfaith Welcome Coalition of San Antonio last week. We have also conducted outreach to the community and have three Girl Scout troops, a community college, and two ELCA churches in Houston who are participating in our backpack drive.

By celebrating Refugee Sunday in your church, you can join LIRS and congregations like Memorial Drive Lutheran Church to learn about migrants and refugees in your community and to serve your newest neighbors.

You can now select any Sunday to help spread the news about LIRS and our mission to assist refugees and migrants.

Choose a Refugee Sunday and visit www.lirs.org/refugeesunday for special resource kits, including a video, bulletin insert and poster to help you plan discussion, prayer and action. For more information or to share your experiences, please contact outreach@lirs.org.


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