Maria Tjeltveit is an Episcopal priest doing a sabbatical project on mission in the Episcopal Church. A second-generation missionary child, she initiated a Refugee Community Center in her parish in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Her sabbatical project explores the emphasis on foreign mission, in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and today’s emphasis on mission in our immediate area.

Maria is partnering with Episcopal Migration Ministries to look at mission today by interviewing Episcopalians (by phone) involved with ministry to refugees (as well as asylum seekers and immigrants).

The interviews will explore:

  • The specific ministry that people are doing, including stories about their work
  • How their work with refugees connects to their faith
  • How their refugee ministry has affected the way they relate to people of other cultures and faiths
  • What ‘home’ means to them, in light of their work with refugees
  • How they understand ‘mission’ and its role in the Episcopal Church

Maria will use what she learns through these interviews, and her exploration of her family’s mission work, to create Making Home: Advent Meditations on Mission and Refugee Ministry. These daily meditations will be shared through EMM with the wider church. The interview materials will also be shared with EMM to strengthen their Partners in Welcome program.

Maria says,

“My grandparents traveled around the world to make their home in China, so they could bring Christ’s love to people through teaching and medicine. My parents made their home in Japan so they could teach, serve, and invite people to discover a spiritual home in Christianity. Today, we welcome refugees, who are coming from around the world—displaced from their homes by war, violence, or natural disasters—and help them make their home here. Mission, at one time, might have been focused on conversion but now is about honoring and learning from one another; recognizing God in people of all faiths and backgrounds.  Mission is about making a home together with others. As Episcopalians, we may feel called to this work of making home because we find our home in the one who came to make his home with us, Jesus Christ.”

To be in touch with Maria and indicate your interest in participating as an interviewee, email Allison Duvall, aduvall@episcopalchurch.org.