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Cal-Pac Awarded $100,000 Grant for Unaccompanied Minor Relief

newsThe California-Pacific Annual Conference has received a $100,000 bridge grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to assist in resourcing a new initiative entitled, “You Are Not Alone,” for the Unaccompanied Migrant Children’s Program of the Cal-Pac United Methodist Church Welcoming Congregations Network. This is a start up grant for this program with a good possibility that further funds would be available from UMCOR in April

The purpose of this program is to enable a large network of Cal-Pac churches to be an extension of God’s welcoming and healing embrace to the thousands of unaccompanied migrant children arriving in Southern California.

Although the surge of unaccompanied minors at the border has subsided somewhat, it is still estimated that over 70,000 children will have fled violence and impoverishment in Central America and made their way to the U.S. by the end of this year. In addition, the push factors that have caused these children to leave their homelands have not changed. It is still more dangerous to be a civilian in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala than it was to be in Iraq at the height of the war.

A large portion of these children would qualify for refugee status if they were to be provided with proper legal representation and family support. These children are beginning to arrive in Southern California, being placed with relatives and sponsors. It is becoming apparent that this violent displacement of so many poor children from Central America is a human disaster whose victims are arriving near the doorsteps of Cal-Pac churches.

The overarching goal of the initiative will be to reach out to these children and their families through local United Methodist churches located near them, equipping these churches to be places of welcome and healing through partnerships with community organizations.

This goal will be accomplished through the following objectives:

  1. Strengthen and expand the already established network of Immigrant Welcoming congregations, organizing and training leadership teams and partnering with UMC agencies and community organizations to provide services and to build healing relationships.  And to work through the South border Ministries Team to connect with the Methodist church in Mexico and Central America to support their work to build a ministry of accompaniment for migrant children on their dangerous journey and to address the root causes of their displacement.
  2. Establish four church-based You Are Not Alone Migrant Children Welcome Centers one in each of the four mainland districts, chosen from Cal-Pac’s most strategically located and active Immigrant Welcoming congregations.
  3. Provide therapeutic camp experiences for migrant children and their families who often suffer from many forms of trauma due to their experiences of poverty, violence, the break up of their family and their frightening journey here.

Leaders of this initiative believe that the California-Pacific Annual Conference is poised to be a genuine healing and empowering presence in the lives of these children and their families because of the strategic location of Cal-Pac churches in their neighborhoods, strong and extensive partnerships with community organizations, the strong support of the Conference and the broader Connection and, especially, the many inspiring and passionate followers of Jesus Christ in local congregations who will be trained to lead and carry out this important ministry.

The Justice and Compassion Essential Ministry Team of the California-Pacific Annual Conference invites all who feel the call to participate in, or support, the You Are Not Alone initiative to connect with Rev. David Farley, Cal-Pac Director of Justice and Compassion Ministries (