A Matter of Faith

Historical: Refugees in NYC
Some of the first refugees CWS resettled. This family poses on a New York City pier shortly after arrival. Photo: CWS historical photo

In 1946, in the aftermath of World War II, churches in the United States came together to respond to the needs of refugees left homeless by the war in Europe and formed an ecumenical organization called Church World Service.

Even though U.S. church members faced many hardships of their own, they worked through CWS to send commodities to the war-torn and to help refugees find new homes and begin new lives in the United States. 

This faith-based commitment to “welcome the stranger” has endured, and over the decades thousands of churches have embraced the challenge to assist and befriend refugees, and to welcome new immigrants to the United States.

Ministry with forcibly displaced people and other migrants is one of hope, where people of faith reach out to people from around the world.  In so doing, they are responding to God's call to stand with uprooted people. The churches' history of responding to the needs of refugees and immigrants is marked by ingenuity and a willingness to go the extra mile — to make the impossible possible. 

So much has been accomplished — more than 500,000 refugees resettled to the United States through CWS, tens of thousands of immigrants served directly and indirectly through CWS programs and advocacy, many families reunited and friends made.

The needs are still great. While some refugee groups have been able to return home in safety and in dignity or have been able to find new homes in neighboring countries, new refugee groups continue to emerge, who need the attention of the international community. And as anti-immigrant sentiment rises in this country and others, the churches' work with immigrants and refugees is even more challenging and critical.

Churches’ involvement with refugees, immigrants and their new neighbors in communities across the United States makes a world of difference for newcomers trying to find a place they can call home.


The value of extending hospitality to refugees and immigrants is shared widely across faiths, including Islam, Christianity and Judaism. >>

Church Partners

CWS supports the work of churches locally and globally who are committed to assisting the forcibly displaced. >>

Faith Resources

Resources for your faith community to use in celebrating and praying for refugees in your community. >>

Take Action

Through both direct service and advocacy, CWS stands with immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and other forcibly displaced persons, together building stronger, more welcoming communities. >>

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