Jesus, When Did I See YOU A Stranger, and Welcomed YOU?
For more than seven decades, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has been a champion for migrants and refugees from around the globe. It is a story of courageous and compassionate service for hundreds of thousands of people who have sought safety and hope in America’s communities.
In 1939 the National Lutheran Council (NLC) set up a Welfare Department with an office for the “rehabilitation and placement of Lutheran refugees.” It helped 522 refugees in the first year. At the end of WWII (1945), refugee camps spring up in Germany, Austria and Italy for displaced persons (DPs) from Eastern Europe, one-third of whom are Lutherans. [Two Trinity members, one in Sweden and from Norway, helped settle refugees during and after the war.]
In 1946, a trickle of refugees of refugees came to the United States, including a group of 21 teenage boys, most of whom are Estonian Lutherans. In 1947 the U.S. Congress authorized the admission of 205,000 eligible Dps and the constituting convention of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), made helping refugees a priority. In that year Howard Hong (a St. Olaf College philosophy professor) became the director of the Lutheran Resettlement and Emigration program for refugees in Germany and Austria. In 1948 the first Lutheran DPs arrive in the United States on 30. October.
Today LIRS continues this work with migrants and refugees, U.S. Lutheran congregations, and many Lutheran social service partners. One of the greatest needs now is settlement of people driven from their homes by the wars in Syria and children being separated from their parents from many nations. A Trinity member recently sent a link from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, as source material for understanding immigration to the USA today (see links below). This report from CSSP cites a report a from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS).
Yes, Lutherans in America have been leaders for decades in helping, supporting and sponsoring immigrants and refugees. LIRS helps us to learn more about the emerging immigrant and refugee crises around the world and the policies of our elected leaders. To learn more about Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, go to: http://lirs.org/
— Roger Berner, Pastor