Home Christian News For the United Methodists’ Relief Arm, 2020 Is One Long Emergency

For the United Methodists’ Relief Arm, 2020 Is One Long Emergency

Also in 2020, the Sheltering in Love Rapid Response program for COVID-19 relief provided over $2.3 million in 230 grants in 54 episcopal areas, 43 countries and 43 U.S. states and territories.

Migration continues to be a focus for The United Methodist Church and to illustrate that work, the Rev. Jack Amick used a “gaps, maps and light” approach that also allows for flexibility in a time of pandemic.

The “maps” part includes a framework for providing goods and services in different locations — on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border; in Latin American countries where churches have set up ministries to assist migrants; or even in a refugee camp in South Sudan. It also can mean, where possible, helping transport migrants or displaced persons to connect them with relatives.

Ministry to migrants has continued during the pandemic, but sometimes “in ways they didn’t expect,” Amick said in an interview with UM News. In some cases, churches have set up ministries to assist migrants who have then had to stay and quarantine.

Changes by the U.S. government related to asylum-seekers and the U.S. public health mandate to close its borders — leaving “thousands of people to be stuck in really bad conditions in Mexico” — has had an impact on migrant ministries near the border, Amick noted.

A ministry in the Rio Grande Valley “is retooling to find ways they can help undocumented people in their area,” while services at the border are suspended, he said. That might include identifying people who would benefit from skills development and helping them attend community college.

Other examples of retooling to fill gaps include helping church-related shelters for asylum seekers on the U.S side of the border retain staff and capacity and buying a commercial refrigerator for fresh vegetables for the Holding Institute, a United Methodist Women national mission institution in Laredo, Texas.

An UMCOR grant to Church World Service is providing “light” as it supports a call system for information for asylum seekers. In recent months, Amick explained, the call system has become a COVID hotline for undocumented immigrants seeking advice or translation help about services available to them.

Justice for Our Neighbors — a United Methodist-related program that provides immigrants and asylum-seekers with legal assistance — also has kept its work going during the pandemic

Executive director Rob Rutland-Brown told UMCOR directors that new sites in Lexington, Kentucky, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, were opened in 2020. The program currently is working with teams planning new locations in the Delaware Valley and Texas.

This article originally appeared on UM News. Used with permission. Subscribe to UM News for more stories related to the United Methodist Church.

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Linda Bloom is the assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York. Follow her at https://twitter.com/umcscribe or contact her at 615-742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free daily or weekly digests.