Co-Sponsorship: The Cornerstone of Church Ministry to Refugees

Did you know that nearly half of all foreign-born residents in Minnesota are refugees? Each year Minnesota welcomes around 2,100 new refugees and your church can play an important role in welcoming these new families through co-sponsorship with MCC Refugee Services.

Co-sponsorship is the cornerstone of refugee care ministry. So far in 2016, teams from 4 different churches and community groups partnered with MCC Refugee Services to help newly arriving refugee families connect to their new community in a well-supported, cooperative way. Many more have committed to future months and are busy building their teams and praying for their yet-to-arrive refugee family.

Co-sponsorship teams work with our staff on tasks like setting up the family’s apartment, greeting them at the airport, helping transport them to and supporting them during their important appointments, & helping with school enrollment. In addition to those tasks, teams also help their refugee family find the every-day landmarks of life as well as find the FUN of life in Minnesota. It is an incredible way to have hands-on experience relieving the global refugee crisis while creating meaningful friendships.

Here’s an example from one co-sponsoring church:

The co-sponsorship team from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis has supported 3 families through co-sponsorship in the past few years. Their team leader, Dave, still maintains contact with some of their past families and was even present at the hospital for the birth of one of the family’s new baby! The team enjoys meeting people who have lived such different lives from their own, all the while working to support social justice in a very real, tangible way.

All were tired but excited at this late night airport arrival!

Holy Trinity’s team had planned on a March start for this year’s co-sponsorship. But when we called to tell them about a Somali family of 7 arriving a few weeks earlier, Dave didn’t hesitate to ask his team if they could move up their start date. Within just a few days they had all the furniture, household items, and winter gear collected for this family’s new life in Minneapolis. What a remarkable response!
Holy Trinity set up the family’s apartment, met them at the airport, and has spent time with their refugee family weekly. They’ve helped the kids enroll in school, taken them to their important appointments, and spent time talking to them about their “old” life, and their dreams for their new life. This has helped them learn that the young teen boys have a love for basketball and one, although shy, will correct you when you say his name incorrectly. They also know that the mom in this family is very ready to have a job and dreams of having a car as quickly as possible!

If you would like to learn more about co-sponsorship, click here for access to our Co-Sponsorship Guide or email rsvolunteers@mnchurches.org for more information.

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