Today domestic affairs adviser Susan Rice, Home Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, White House Coordinator for Operation Allies Welcome Jack Markell, and White House Office of Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships met with a diverse group of faith leaders who evacuated Afghanistan welcome across the country and assist with relocation. These Afghans include people who have worked as employees of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and their families, those who have served as translators and interpreters for our government, and other vulnerable Afghans, including members of persecuted beliefs, human rights defenders, journalists, and women Girl.
The religious leaders described steps they are taking to encourage their communities and communities to participate in this effort, such as by making donations or volunteering for refugee relocation organizations – many of which are denominational – and by contacting their state and local representatives to encourage them to welcome Afghan arrivals. They shared personal stories of meeting the newcomers, as well as details of how the denomination organized to accommodate them in both single and multi-religious initiatives. Clergymen stressed the need to recognize that we are all interconnected and that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. They also found that these efforts provide an opportunity for Americans to overcome our differences and provide a compassionate response.
Government officials highlighted President Biden‘s commitment to ensuring not just a nationwide but a pan-American effort through the recent appointment of Operation Allies Welcome White House coordinator, Governor Jack Markell. The leaders also discussed the recent launch of the new Welcome.US website, a go-to for organizations, private sector companies and Americans who want to welcome Afghans and offer assistance. The religious leaders suggested new ways of working together and expanding engagement in these efforts.
Administrative officials expressed their deep gratitude for the work and voices of these community leaders, noting that the faith community has long been at the forefront of efforts to accommodate refugees, asylum seekers and other newcomers. The group pledged to continue working together towards the common goal of welcoming Afghan arrivals and helping them thrive here in the United States.
The conference participants included:
- Rabbi Sharon Brous, ICAR
- The Rev. Anne E. Derse, St. John’s Norwood Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Washington
- Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, United States Catholic Bishops Conference
- Archbishop JosÃ© Gomez, Catholic Bishops Conference of the United States
- Bishop E. Anne Henning-Byfield, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
- Rev. Walter Kim, National Association of Evangelicals
- Imam Mohamed Magid, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)
- Imam Zia Mahkdoom, MakeSpace
- Pastor Bob Roberts, Multi-Faith Neighbors Network and Northwood Church
- Pastor Gabriel Salguero, The Gathering Place, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
- Reverend Jeanette Salguero, The Gathering Place, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
- Bishop Keith Kershaw, Church of God in Christ (COGIC)
- Dr. Hema Kaue Sidhu, Guru Nanak Foundation of America
- Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, National Council of Churches
- Lance Walker, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints