Refugee Resettlement Ministry
Who/how does the ministry serve?
Launched in 2016, the Refugee Resettlement Ministry (RRM) at St. Martin’s was created out of concern by several members of the parish about the global refugee crisis, particularly coming out of Syria. St. Martin’s Refugee Resettlement Ministry joins with leaders of faith communities, secular organizations, and citizens in the Philadelphia area to resettle refugees in a safe, secure, and welcoming environment.
We help resettle refugees as guided by the Bible in Leviticus 19:34: "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."
Who is involved?
RRM is led by a committee comprised of St. Martin's lay leaders, including: Andrew Christman, Ben Baehr, Hal Taussig, Lyn Buchheit, Marnie Kerr, Mims Zabriskie, Rich Himmer, Susan McBridge, Tanya Regli, Lanie Dilks, and Sandy Lentz. St. Martin's is a member of the New Sanctuary Movement, with whom we have taken action over the past several years. Other collaborators include other churches in the Wissahickon Deanery, the Church of the Crucifixion, HIAS PA, Nationalities Service Center, POWER's Live Free Strategy Team, the Driving PA Forward Coalition, JUNTOS, and the Shut Down Berks Coalition.
How do I get involved?
Anyone interest in working with and building up this ministry is welcome to join us for regular Zoom meetings. Contact Tanya Regli or Marnie Kerr for more details.
You can also donate diapers to RRM's weekly Diaper Drive. Read more here.
The Refugee Resettlement Ministry (RRM) was founded in summer 2016 as a response to the world refugee crisis. The RRM began as part of a coalition of local churches helping to facilitate the resettlement of a young Syrian woman, Samra, who attends LaSalle University on a student visa, and Mohamad, and a young student at Friends Select School, now at Bard College. In October 2016, the RRM began fundraising efforts in preparation to host a refugee family. In December 2016, St. Martin’s welcomed the Dahans, a Syrian refugee family of four, to Philadelphia. Over the past two years, a core group of 20 parishioners and community members, supported by untold numbers in the St. Martin’s community, have ensured the Dahan family’s resettlement through generous donations of time, goods, and services. The RRM has hosted several public and private fundraisers raising over $30,000, and St. Martin’s Committee Engagement committee’s operating budget has contributed $20,000 to Samra’s LaSalle tuition. Together, our community coordinated the Dahan’s housing and transportation, and supported their access to healthcare, employment, and education. The RRM is currently developing goals for the future in light of the Dahan family’s increasing independence and the changed landscape of refugee resettlement in the US. This discernment process has included a steering committee retreat, participation in the Community Engagement Forum, two summer Book Club sessions (Toxic Charity by Richard Lupton), and most recently, discussions with parishioners at Homecoming Sunday.
- The Free Carmela Campaign, which resulted in the freedom of Carmela Apolonio Hernandez and her children.
- Driving PA Forward, which has put forward legislation at the state level. Team members have helped draft clergy letters, gotten signatures, made calls and engage others in making calls.
- Shut Down Berks Coalition: team members have participated in regular planning meetings, legislative calls, and rallies.
What are some struggles?
As refugee programs began to diminish because of reduced Federal support, RRM began a discernment process to find other ways to support immigrants in our community. Through reflection and planning RRM began to look for healthy ways to support immigrant led organizations and be effective allies. The pandemic also created additional barriers to connecting with immigrants while also creating more imminent needs around food and shelter.
Refugee Resettlement Ministry Supporting Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan Refugees
Report from the September 2021 Community Engagement Committee Retreat