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Meeting To Explore What Warren Could Offer Refugees

WARREN, Pa. — Recent relief initiatives for the crisis in Eastern Europe have revealed a sense of generosity in the community.

As discussions continue about whether the county could accept refugees from Ukraine, an effort is underway to try to pull together that community sentiment to help. The first step will be a meeting at First Lutheran Church at 6:30 p.m. June 24 for anyone interested in getting involved.

“There seems to be enough momentum from various directions that it’s time to focus it on what specifically we can do as a community,” First Lutheran Pastor Jeff Ewing said.

Some of those individuals who have traveled to the region will participate and the churches part of the Warren’s ministerial association are asked to join as well. It’s open to the broader community, as well.

“We know that the generosity of the community is there,” Ewing said. “So instead of just kind of saying, ‘We’ve done our part,’ (we can) now ask, ‘What more can we do? What else is there?’ That’s this next step with this June 24 meeting.”

While a church might be taking a lead, Ewing was clear that any action on the issue would have to involve more than just the county’s faith communities.

“This cannot be a church-only thing,” he said. “It’s a community thing. The idea is that it takes a village.”

He credited efforts undertaken by Father Rick Tomasone and St. Joseph Parish, calling them the “beta testers.”

“Thankfully, they paved a way for us,” Ewing said. “We’re just trying to do the best we can and what we believe God is calling us towards.”

Any discussion about what the community can offer is likely to be much broader than anyone might think it is.

It requires partnerships with local government and involvement from “anybody that desires to have a vested interest in it,” Ewing stressed. “We all have to take a share in the work.

No one knows what the need is yet.

“Because we don’t know what we need, we need to get together and talk about it in a way that everybody is partnering,” Ewing said.

Housing, employment, transportation, language, education and living in a different culture and all that entails are just some of the issues that would need to be addressed to move forward.

“It’s a lot of everyday things we take for granted,” he said. “I hope that the meeting ends with, ‘Here are some things we think we can provide as a community. Is this enough.'”

In addition to the $10,000 initiative, First Lutheran has been involved in this space, sending 200 quits and 200 health kits overseas.

“We know there’s a humanitarian need out there and we’re helping trying to be God’s hands and feet,” Ewing said. “This is just another step along the way. … (There’s) never a final step.”

There are local benefits that Ewing sees as part of this initiative, as well.

“How can we keep this spirit of cooperation and community going?” he asked. “This is one way that we can do it. My guess is there are also other congregations wondering, ‘What can we do or how can we help?’ This might give them an opp to say, ‘Ok, we didn’t think about that.'”

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