Lexington: Refugee families after a Sunday service
Refugee families cosponsored by Wesley United Methodist Church in Lexington, Ky., include Victoria Umulisa, Devine and baby Deborah, from Rwanda. Here, they socialize with congregants Viola Clements and the Rev. Cynthia Talley after a Sunday service. Photo: Doris Berry

Many faith traditions emphasize the importance of extending hospitality to refugees and immigrants, making congregations and other faith-based groups uniquely gifted to provide social support and friendship to new refugee arrivals.

The experience of cosponsoring refugees is life-changing for everyone involved as congregations are renewed and refugee families receive the resources they need to thrive. As one past volunteer stated, “This experience affected our lives and spiritual journeys… how we view the world changed.

Cosponsors serve as welcoming communities, working closely with the local resettlement office or affiliate to ensure that refugee newcomers have:

  • decent, safe, and sanitary housing.
  • essential furnishings.
  • food or a food allowance and other basic necessities.
  • necessary clothing.
  • referral to appropriate health programs and screening.
  • assistance in applying for social security cards and in registering children for school, and
  • transport to job interviews and job training.

Moreover, assisting refugees through cosponsorship brings refugees into direct contact with their new home community in a safe, non-threatening way.  Refugees who have congregational cosponsors acclimate to their new lives better.  Cosponsoring a refugee does not require financial assistance, but cosponsors do have to have a heart for welcoming newcomers to the United States.

  • Members of your congregation will come to know these individuals, learn their stories, their losses, their hopes for their new lives – and receive the gifts refugees bring with them.
  • Your youth and children's groups will learn from the refugees' experience.
  • In the excitement generated in planning for the refugees' arrival, the congregation can come together in a new way.
  • Your congregation will meet new friends.
  • Everyone can be involved-including children, youth, retirees and homebound persons.

Contact your local CWS office or affiliate, write or call CWS at 212-870-3300 to get started!

CWS is an equal opportunity employer / program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.