In Washington, D.C., Lutheran Services of Georgia joined over 40 Lutheran leaders in Miami to strengthen ties and deepen connections during the November 17-19 National Immigrant Integration Conference (Miami NIIC 6)! NIIC 6 reaffirmed the crucial role of churches in building social connections for immigrants.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) convened the gathering, bringing together Lutheran leaders from across the nation. "As LIRS approaches its 75th anniversary in 2014, we're honored to bring together this cross-section of Lutheran leaders from churches and congregations from across the U.S, and we're grateful for this opportunity to share their valuable experiences with welcoming migrants and refugees, " said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO.
Attending from Georgia were Melanie Johnson, Program Manager for Volunteer, Congregation and Community Engagement for LSG's Refugee and Immigration Services and the Reverend Seyward Ask, Pastor for Outreach and Evangelism at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta. "It was incredibly energizing," noted Melanie, "to both hear and share stories of the many ways Lutheran congregations are engaged in compassionate and welcoming relationships with refugees and migrants in communities across the United States. As we left the LIRS convening and the National Immigrant Integration Conference, we parted with much stronger connections to our national network of Lutheran partners in the ministry of welcome."
The LIRS convening involved Lutheran leaders in conversations on topics including
- Investing in the development of expertise within church partner networks and jointly exploring the role congregations can play in connecting migrants and refugees to communities
- Uncovering the strengths, barriers, and emerging opportunities for people of faith to be actively engaged in the integration journeys of newcomers
- Developing a shared understanding of the ways in which participants can expand the circle of congregations invested in the long-term integration of newcomers in the community
LSG is engaged in building welcoming communities by serving, empowering, and advocating for refugees and immigrants. LSG will resettle between four and five hundred refugees in Atlanta and Savannah in 2014 and provide cultural orientation, employment, social adjustment and educational services to refugees. LSG also partners with faith and community groups to visit migrants in detention in Georgia.
LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States. LIRS welcomes refugees and migrants on behalf of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Learn more at http://lirs.org/.
Miami NIIC 6 is the signature event of the National Partnership for New Americans. The event has grown in size, scope, and vision every year since 2008. Learn more at http://www.integrationconference.org.