By Joseph Roberson, Mission Team, Park Avenue Christian Church
Park Avenue Christian Church, New York, NY, is located in a city of immigrants. Many of these immigrants are seeking ways to regularize their status, reunite their families and provide a better life for those they love. With the Biblical mandate of hospitality ever at the forefront, the Park aims to offer solutions to immigrants seeking legal solutions to their immigration challenges.
At the same time, long time Disciples ecumenical partner, Church World Service (CWS), was looking at additional ways to provide direct services in its headquarters location, New York City. Through grants from its member communions, including the Disciples, CWS funds two immigration attorney positions in the city. The Park and CWS were working toward the same goals and connections between the two were enabled.
Recruitment for volunteers was conducted for three Sundays prior to the first training event. Two volunteer training events were held in preparation for the clinic. These trainings helped familiarize participants with some of the terminology they would encounter, along with the “do’s and don’ts” that are necessary. The attorneys at CWS trained 22 people on how to “staff” the immigration clinics.
The first clinic was held at the Park on September 22. Ten client consultations were conducted by the attorneys and supported by 12 volunteers from the church. Free initial consultations were offered for those looking for answers to their immigration challenges and situations. Church World Service provided the legal expertise and the Park provided the hospitality and assistance needed in registering for the clinic. It was a great start for the church’s outreach to immigrants. Further legal clinics are planned and possibly a clinic for those interested in naturalization.
Churches that are interested in learning more about how to set-up a clinic can be in touch with Church World Service, 212.870.3300. Working with attorneys in local communities and volunteers in your congregations, churches can reach out to further meet the needs of the immigrant community.