The Rainbow Initiative is Episcopal Migration Ministries’ response to General Convention 2022 Resolution D045 “On Supporting LGBTIQ+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers”, which directed the Episcopal Church to promote support for people who have fled their countries because of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and/or sex characteristics. The Resolution also directs Episcopal Migration Ministries to focus attention on people subject to such persecution, and to offer information on how they could be better supported.
RAINBOW INITIATIVE GOALS
- Work with Episcopal congregations to bring visibility and aid to LGBTQ+ forced migrants, with a focus on activities in June 2023 including Pride marches and services, and World Refugee Day (June 20th). Through this work, we hope to foster new partnerships involving Episcopal congregations, forced migrants, voluntary resettlement agencies such as EMM, community groups, etc.
- Review and revise EMM materials and procedures in order to ensure that they are fully inclusive of LGBTQ+ forced migrants.
- Rainbow Initiative brochure/flyer: PDF | Print-ready PDF with crop marks & bleed
- La Iniciativa Arco Iris folleto en español: PDF | PDF que está lista para imprimir con marcas de corte
- EMM Webinar: The Rainbow Initiative: An introduction to LGBTQ+ forced migrants & what The Episcopal Church can do with and for them. Webinar resources: On demand video | PPT Slides (English) | PPT Slides en español
- McGuirk, Siobhan, Max Niedzwiecki, Temitope Oke & Anastasia Volkova. (2015). Stronger Together, a Guide to Supporting LGBT Asylum Seekers. LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network.
This 2015 guide provides comprehensive information about how communities can best serve LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in the United States. It includes sections focused on an introduction to the field, program essentials, types of services, working with clients throughout the asylum process, ethical considerations, institutional models, and fundraising, as well as a directory of helpful organizations.
- Niedzwiecki, Max. (2023). We Shall Overcome: A Case Study of the LGBT Asylum Task Force, a Parish Ministry. In Goździak, E.M., Main, I. (eds), Debating Religion and Forced Migration Entanglements. Politics of Citizenship and Migration. Palgrave Macmillan Cham.
This chapter outlines the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ forced migrants, with a special focus on the role of religion in motivating persecution as well as assistance and resilience. It also provides a case study of the LGBT Asylum Task Force in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Task Force is a ministry of Hadwen Park Congregational Church, UCC, and is the only program in the U.S. dedicated to providing wrap-around services, including housing, to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers.
LGBTQ+ people are often subject to what has been called “religious abuse.” Abuse and social exclusion often continue in refugee camps and resettlement countries. Many LGBTQ+ people flee as individuals and seek asylum once they have reached relative safety, and are thus not able to benefit from the U.S. refugee resettlement and protection programs. LGBTQ+ forced migrants in the U.S. are more likely to be asylees than refugees.
Seeking asylum in the U.S. is especially difficult for LGBTQ+ people due to their social isolation and other factors. Federal funds cannot be used to provide most services to asylum seekers. In addition, most are unable to work legally for at least 180 days after they file their asylum applications, and very little philanthropic attention is directed towards them. These hardships are compounded by their lack of social support.
- Episcopal Migration Ministries Announces Rainbow Initiative Congregations and Communities.
- The Episcopal Church, Office of Public Affairs. (2023, May 11). Honor LGBTQ+ forced migrants in June through Episcopal Migration Ministries’ Rainbow Initiative.
- The Episcopal Church, Office of Public Affairs. (2023, March 27). Episcopal Migration Ministries shares ‘Rainbow Initiative’ survey results, seeks participant congregations.
- Petersen, Kirk. (2023, February 13). Collegiality prevails despite COO drama. The Living Church.
- Millard, Egan. (2023, January 30). Episcopal Migration Ministries launches initiative to help LGBTQ+ migrants, seeks input through survey. Episcopal News Service.
- The Episcopal Church, Office of Public Affairs. (2023, January 30). Episcopal Migration Ministries launches project, survey focused on LGBTQ+ forced migrants.
- Factsheets: Coming soon
- Welcome to Chechnya
This award-winning film centers on the persecution of LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya and their search for safety.
- Welcome to Chechnya
- Detailed Reports
- The Episcopal Church and LGBTQ+ Inclusion
- Sermon by Miguel Escobar, preached at Trinity Wall Street on June 11, 2019: Video | Text
- Worship & Prayer Resources:
- God, Bless Those Who Are Afraid, prayer by Louie Crew Clay
- Dios, bendice a los que tienen miedo por Louie Crew Clay – God, Bless Those Who Are Afraid, prayer by Louie Crew Clay en español
- Rainbow Initiative Collects (Prayers) for Use in Worship Services
- Collects – Colectas – en español
- Rainbow Initiative Prayers of the People for Use in Worship Services
- Prayers of the People – Oraciones del Pueblo – en español
- Detailed Report: UNHCR. (2013). Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders. Available at: https://www.unhcr.org/protection/hcdialogue%20/51b6de419/welcoming-stranger-affirmations-faith-leaders.html This resource, published by the United Nations refugee agency, provides religious affirmations that highlight the importance of welcoming the stranger, as well as related theological reflection. In Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish, German, Hebrew, and Turkish.
- Factsheets: Coming soon
- Films: LGBT Asylum Task Force: https://www.lgbtasylum.org/gala
These two short films were produced for the annual gala of the LGBT Asylum Task Force, a ministry of Hadwen Park Congregational Church UCC in Worcester, Massachetts, which is the only organization or program in the U.S. that focuses on providing housing and wrap-around services specifically for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. They highlight stories about how and why LGBTQ+ people flee from their countries of origin, and how they start to build new lives in the United States. They also provide an example of what a fully-fledged ministry for LGBT+ forced migrants can look like.
- Detailed Reports
- Episcopal Asylum & Detention Ministry Network
EMM hosts an Asylum and Detention Ministry Network, which focuses on best practice-sharing in areas of direct service, organizing, advocacy actions, Christian formation and worship resources, and community education to protect asylum, to promote humane and dignified alternatives to detention, and to support asylum seekers and those harmed by the immigration detention system.
- Immigration Equality
Through direct legal services, policy advocacy, and impact litigation, Immigration Equality advocates for immigrants and families facing discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.
- LGBT Asylum Task Force
The LGBT Asylum Task Force is the only organization or project that focuses on providing housing, income support, and wraparound services to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in the United States. It is a ministry of Hadwen Park Congregational Church, UCC, in Worcester, MA.
- Office of Governmental Relations, The Episcopal Church
This link gives access to a summary of Episcopal Church policy on immigration and refugee issues.
- Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM)
ORAM’s mission is to protect and empower LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees globally, creating sustainability and systemic change.
- Rainbow Railroad
Rainbow Railroad is a global not-for-profit organization that helps LGTBQI+ people facing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. Individuals facing persecution can request help through a form on their website in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, or Russian.
- Safeplace International
Safe Place International is a holistic leadership development organization for displaced LGBTQIA+ individuals.
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
This page contains resources on LGBTQ+ forced migrants from UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency
Rainbow Initiative Communities enter into a covenant relationship with Episcopal Migration Ministries, committing to participate in the Rainbow Initiative by attending the Initiative’s monthly webinars and learning community sessions; raising community awareness about LGBTQ+ forced migrants through Pride Services, Pride Marches, World Refugee Day events, and/or other activities in June 2023; and more.
We are grateful to partner with the following Rainbow Initiative Communities:
- All Saints Episcopal Church: Hershey, PA
- Bridge Refugee Services: Chattanooga and Knoxville, TN
- Cathedral of the Holy Trinity: Paris, France
- Christ Lutheran Church: Nashville, TN
- Church of the Ascension: Munich, Germany
- Epiphany Episcopal Church: Vacaville, CA
- First Lutheran Church: Duluth, MN
- Gloria Dei Lutheran Church: Duluth, MN
- Grace Episcopal Church: Sandusky, OH
- Holy Spirit Episcopal Church: Belmont, MI
- Iglesia Episcopal San Mateo/St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church: Hyattsville, MD
- Integrity Harlem at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church: New York, NY
- LGBT Asylum Task Force, a ministry of Hadwen Park Congregational Church UCC: Worcester, MA
- Rio Grande Borderland Ministries: Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande – New Mexico & Far West Texas
- St. Anna’s Episcopal Church: New Orleans, LA
- St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church / San Miguel y Todos Los Ángeles Iglesia Episcopal: Portland, OR
- St. Nicholas Episcopal Church: Elk Grove Village, IL
- St. Paul’s and St. George’s Episcopal Churches: Poughkeepsie and Newburgh, NY
- Southeastern Synod, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA): Based in Atlanta, GA
- The Benedictine Way: Omaha, NE
Contact us (rainbowini[email protected]) to learn more about becoming a RIC.
Sunday, June 11
- 10:00am EDT – LGBTQIA Asylum Seekers Sunday. Hosted by Integrity Harlem at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, New York City