New Jersey church prepares to welcome Syrian refugees
Congregation joins other denominations in effort to resettle families in the US
From Presbyterian News Service
Willow Grove Presbyterian Church in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, has a long history of opening its arms to people coming to this country for a new start. In the 1970s, the church welcomed a Vietnamese family escaping the trappings of war in their homeland. Relationships with this family, according to pastor Cynthia Cochran-Carney, are still strong today.
Now the church is preparing for an opportunity to host a Syrian family seeking to escape the devastation of war. While the American public is locked in debate over whether to open doors for those seeking to start anew, it was never a question for Willow Grove.
“I think the people here are quite sure what it means to sponsor a family even though we’ve only gone through the initial steps,” Cochran-Carney said. “The congregation really feels our calling comes from Jesus’ words in Matthew 25. If people are hungry, need shelter and come from a place of conflict like Syria, we want to be part of a larger community effort to welcome them.”
Cochran-Carney, working with other interfaith leaders, has formed a group called the Refugee Assistance Partners (RAP). The group has met several times to find out what they have to do be a host site.
Church World Service (CWS), an interfaith agency supporting refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, opened an office in Jersey City last February to begin the process of resettling Syrian families and others in the state. CWS staff began meeting with the interfaith group to put the wheels in motion.