by Daryl Schreiber
Late Sunday night, a bus of 55 asylum-seeking migrants, who had just been released in El Paso, pulled into Denver. First Plymouth Congregational UCC in Englewood sheltered 10 of these migrants and got them connected with their sponsors in the United States. They arrived at First Plymouth at about 3:00 am on Monday morning, May 13, 2019. They were met with beds, food, and good company. All were on their way to meet their sponsors by Tuesday afternoon.
This was First Plymouth’s first time hosting asylum seekers in their building. I talked with project coordinator Anne Kleinkopf about the experience. I asked her why this ministry is important to First Plymouth. “Firstly, Jesus said to have mercy and welcome the stranger. I can’t imagine a better way to be the hands and feet of Christ than by welcoming families who are completely destitute and fleeing violence. Secondly, it is so great for the folks who volunteer to help, the Good Samaritans. True, deep, eternal life begins with loving your neighbor. Every volunteer who had any part in this came away feeling so full of true life because of what we’re doing.”
“People were showing up in droves to help and donate to this effort. How many church programs can you say that about?”
The volunteers weren’t only church members, many of the people expressing interest had never set foot inside First Plymouth. “Once the story broke in the local news, people were showing up in droves to help and donate to this effort. How many church programs can you say that about?” When asked why she thought so many new faces showed up to help, Anne replied, “The border situation has left people with a lot of anger and grief, and this gives them a way to help. This program is a wonderful way to show the non-church community what church is about.”
Anne says the most rewarding aspect of this event was creating beloved community, both in her church, in Denver, and abroad. First Plymouth is currently in discernment on if and how they might make this a sustainable program for their church. If you’d like more information on how to get involved with this ministry at First Plymouth, or how your church can get involved in sheltering asylum-seekers, please email Anne Kleinkopf.