WESTFIELD, NJ - First Congregational Church of Westfield, 125 Elmer Street in Westfield, will host a special “Souper Sunday” forum on the Syrian refugee crisis and resettlement effort on Sunday, March 6, at 11:30 a.m. in the lower level of the Compass Schoolhouse building, at the right of the church complex.  A soup and salad luncheon will be served and the event is free and open to the public.

The featured speaker will be Mahmoud Mahmoud, director of Church World Service (CWS) in Jersey City, one of nine private aid organizations working with the United Nations and the US State department to assist in international refugee resettlement.   Since April 2015, CWS has helped 150 refugees from Colombia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Syria start new lives in the New York metropolitan area. 

 “We are excited to have Church World Service come and share their deep understanding of the realities faced by the victims of this crisis, as well as discover how we can contribute to their efforts in this area,” said Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea. FCC Senior Minister. 

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“The crisis in Syria is another reminder of the suffering and desperation caused by civil and regional war. In response to that suffering, our faith, as well as the moral principles our nation has always claimed to stand for, call us to do what we can to help. Our church community responded to that call by leading an interfaith resettlement effort in Westfield for refugees from Kosovo in 1999 and Iraq in 2008 and we look to carry on that heritage once again."

As CWS prepares for a new wave of Syrian refugees, Mr. Mahmoud will discuss the many ways that volunteers can assist in the resettlement effort, from coordinating food, clothing and furniture donation drives to providing literacy training and mentorship.   He will also answer questions and explain the rigorous process refugees go through before being accepted into the United States.

Founded in 1946, Church World Service is an ecumenical humanitarian aid organization providing international relief and recovery efforts.  The United Church of Christ, of which First Congregational is a member, has been a partner since 1957.  For additional information on Church World Service, visit www.cwsglobal.org.

To register for this “Souper Sunday” event, please contact the church office at 908-233-2494 or uccfcc@verizon.net.  For more information on First Congregational Church, please visit their website at www.fccofwestfield.org.