West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry

West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry (WVIRM) formed in October 2015 when a group of religious leaders representing Christian, Muslim and Jewish congregations joined with other community leaders to bring a greater understanding of the plight of Syrian refugees to their community in Charleston, West Virginia. Their first public gathering was an informal webinar at St. John’s Episcopal Church about refugee resettlement and the refugee vetting process. Over 150 people of all faiths attended and over 100 signed up to volunteer and learn more.

WVIRM is a non-denominational, interfaith affiliate office of Episcopal Migration Ministries. While their office, located in Charleston, WV was preliminarily authorized in December 2016 by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to possibly resettle approximately 85 refugees per fiscal year beginning in October of 2017, the decision was made by the U.S. State Department in the Summer of 2017 not resettle through this office. WVIRM is currently assisting refugees in ways other than direct resettlement. Instead, they are engaged in projects such as assisting other resettlement agencies, funding a tutor in a refugee camp in Lebanon, helping school libraries to obtain children’s books that promote understanding of refugee children’s lives and other similar projects. Learn more about WVIRM: https://wvirm.com/

WVIRM initiatives include:

  • WVIRM launched the WVIRM/IAWV Scholarship program: https://wvirm.com/wvirm-iawv-educational-scholarship-program/
  • Funded a small grant for WV Step by Step to order children’s books on refugee families and to develop a curriculum for schools, reading programs and after school programs to use to help schoolchildren understand the refugee crisis.
  • Approved a scholarship working with the local chapter of the Syrian American Medical Society to help medical students who have fled Syria to continue their medical training
  • Contacted a local college to investigate starting a scholarship program to help WV select high school students who are refugees and who need help to attend college.
  • Held an annual Rally in Charleston, WV to support refugees and increase awareness and interfaith understanding.
  • Participated for several years in Civil Rights Lobby Day at the WV State Capitol.
  • Held informational community events such as talks to community and religious organizations about refugee resettlement, and information tables at community events such as the Charleston WV Artwork.
  • Met with WV Senators, Congressional staffers and officials in WV State Government to discuss issues relevant to refugee resettlement and temporary protected status. Had its letter to a staff person in Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s office, asking for extension of temporary protected status for refugees from several countries, sent in a Congressional Communique to the Director of the Federal Department of Homeland Security.
  • Compiled a directory of over 100 volunteers – individuals, churches, synagogues and mosques who are ready to help sponsor refugee families selected by Catholic Charities and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Service for resettlement of refugees in WV.