BWM Advocacy for Refugees

Church World Service Meeting in Washington D.C. – October 25-26, 2019

In late October Church World Service (CWS) held their annual member meeting in Washington D.C. to make the event not just a report on the work in the last year, but to add an advocacy component as well.  CWS is an organization of 37 member communions, and the Moravian Church has experienced much of its membership through the Board of World Mission (BWM).

Former Executive Director Judy Ganz, and current Executive Director Justin Rabbach have been very active in the Heads of Mission forum organized by CWS. This forum brings together the top staff delegated to mission efforts from the member communions to allow for conversation and collaboration around a shared response to mission.

Given the focus on global migration, which impacts many Moravians in the worldwide Unity, and the opportunity to join in advocacy efforts with ecumenical partners, an intentional effort was made to have a strong Moravian presence at the event. This two-day event was attended by Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller (President, Moravian Church Northern Province), Rt. Rev. Chris Giesler (Director of Mission Engagement, BWM) and Justin Rabbach (Executive Director, BWM).

On the first afternoon there was a special missiological reflection by Karenna Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore. She did an excellent job of tying together a biblical framing with the issue of climate change and human migration (forced and unforced).

That evening CWS organized a reception in the Capitol building to honor several members of Congress who have done good work on the issue of refugee resettlement.

On Thursday morning, the policy team in DC led the group through a briefing on refugee resettlement issues in advance of afternoon visits to our congressional representatives. Each visit had at least two members from the ecumenical body in attendance and visits were scheduled based on your home zip code.

Justin Rabbach traveled with a Catholic priest from Oshkosh, WI to meet with representatives for Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and representative Gallagher, a congressional representative for Northeast Wisconsin.

Rev. Dr. Miller and Rt. Rev. Giesler visited with the offices of Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey Jr. and Representative Susan Wild.

Our primary ask as an ecumenical body was to garner support for the G.R.A.C.E. Act. This proposed legislation would set a mandatory minimum of 95,000 slots for refugees each year to be resettled in the U.S. This number is used because it is the historical average over the timeframe since 1980. The current administration had lowered the number each year, with a plan for only 18,000 in 2020.

It was encouraging, and a joy to be able to work in partnership with members of other member communions to CWS, as our voices together are much stronger than they ever could be individually. Additionally, the resources provided specific actions to be taken by folks who care about these issues. If anyone has interest in learning more about these issues and how they can be join in the discussion, I encourage them to visit the website of Church World Service: https://cwsglobal.org/

BWM Advocacy for Refugees

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