ALL SAINTS CHURCH, DURHAM, NC
One of things that define All Saints Church, Durham/Chapel Hill, NC is our commitment to being involved in various Local Missions efforts. Our mission/vision statement follows:
The purpose of the Local Missions Team is to inform, lead, educate, and inspire our congregation regarding the opportunities for loving response to local needs, both spiritual and physical, in the name of Christ. We are committed to loving every part of our community, especially the overlooked, under-resourced, and marginalized. Local mission initiatives at All Saints are ministry because they prioritize relationship, outreach because we go to people not yet a part of our family, and missional because they proclaim the good news of Christ.
All Saints Church is fast approaching our 1 year anniversary of full ministry partnership with World Relief/Durham. We have had over 70 people go through training with World Relief in order to volunteer in numerous ways with refugee resettlement. Three Good Neighbor Teams (GNT) have been formed and our church family has been blessed in ways beyond measure.
On June 7, 2016, our first GNT, led by Joe and Teri Adelman, welcomed the Najjar family from Syria.
Team Member Peter Uhlenberg shares, “We held up the beautiful welcome sign in Arabic, and waited as Ahmad, his wife and three children approached us. What a moment of joy. After greetings, Ahmad’s first words were ‘We are so happy to be here!’ And I was so happy to be there, to see them arrive safely after living for three years as refugees in Jordan.”
One of the most important things All Saints Church has learned is how crucial it is to build relationships with our sponsored refugees. Lydia Kiefer expresses it this way: “The first time I went to visit the Najjar family, I feared making a cultural faux pas or not having any way of communicating. When I arrived at their home, I had only just stepped across the threshold, and I was offered dessert and a special homemade tea for Ramadan. The family themselves could not partake as they were observing the fast of Ramadan, but they made me feel like an honored guest. Rather than finding an awkward social situation, I found a friend in Amal. We shared pictures of our families and talked about our mutual interests.”
Teri Adelman shares: “Even before I met them, I couldn’t help thinking about what they must be feeling as they left their country behind to find a safe place to live. Upon meeting them (even with the language barrier…) I found a warm and friendly young couple with 3 young children who were very thankful for everything we had done in setting up their apartment, but more so, they were extremely appreciative that people were there to greet them and establish a friendship with them.”
(Photos L to R): Meeting at RDU, a trip to the NC Museum of Science and playing with new friends.
Soon after the arrival of the Najjar’s, a new GNT was formed under the leadership of Ray and Debbie Hooker. The Musavi family, a single mother from Afghanistan with 4 children, arrived on August 31, 2016. The GNT continues to work with this family as they try to navigate how to navigate US systems such as education, banking, bill paying, work and social services. The team provided a copy of Rosetta Stone to assist with ESL and, in addition to sharing meals and planning activities where everyone can have fun and get to know one another better (Halloween party & Movie night), is currently providing weekly language tutoring.
A third GNT was formed under the leadership of Kym & Susan Gardner. They expected the arrival of a 6 member Syrian family from Aleppo, Turkey shortly before Christmas. Due to special medical needs of two of the children, this family was redirected to a community that could better serve their needs. The Gardner GNT was put on hold until after the first of the year. On January 20, 2017 they welcomed the Laukoura family of 6 from the Central African Republic and Cameroon after spending 11 years in refugee camps. This team is in the very early stages and has already faced some unusual challenges. They have also developed some wonderful friendships. The Laukoura family is protestant and has been able to join us for corporate worship and their two teenage children have joined our youth. Weather permitting, many team members meet with the family on Saturdays for marathon soccer games and share great food.
(Photos L to R & Down) Team members finishing the apartment set-up, waiting to meet the Laukoura’s at RDU and headed out for a new life.
There promises to be many changes in the refugee resettlement process over the coming year, but our commitment to serving people from around the world as they seek to find peace and new lives in America does not waiver.