Welcome the Iraqi refugee

Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, TN, hopes to draw attention to the plight of millions of Iraqis who have fled their homes since 2003 and says that the Gospel compels us to welcome the refugee.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says more than 4.7 million Iraqis have been displaced during the war in Iraq. More than 2 million of those have fled to countries like Syria and Jordan. Others have gone to Europe or the U.S.

The Tennessean writes:

The Saturday morning forum at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville will feature a report from activist and journalist Kelly Hayes-Raitt, who worked with refugees in Iraq for several months in 2008. Organizers hope the event will rally support for the plight of refugees.

“The mandate for Christians is found in Matthew 25 — ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat … I was a stranger and you invited me in,'” said the Rev. Bob Abstein, a retired Episcopal priest and former pastor of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville….

Erol Kekic, director of the Church World Services program for refugees in Knoxville, said

Iraqi refugees who come to the U.S. have been through an intensive screening process. “We need to know who they are and what their story is,” he said. “They have to show that they have a well-founded fear of persecution if they return home.”

Churches and other nonprofits play a key role in resettling refugees. The federal government provides some basic support, Kekic said, but churches often supply needs like clothing, housing and emotional support.”

Read the rest here.

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