The Rev. Amelia Stinson-Wesley, Pastor
Memorial United Methodist Church, Charlotte, N.C.
Member, N.C. Council of Churches Governing Board
In early November, Memorial United Methodist Church in Charlotte, we were asked if we had any available housing. While I knew we had an empty parsonage, I knew that it was not in very good condition. I learned that two other United Methodist Churches in our Metro District had received small grants to seed their vision of providing housing for a refugee family. A pastor of one of those churches ask me if my church would be willing to join them in that vision.
I spoke with a few church leaders, and while not fully understanding all it might entail, we said yes anyway. We partnered with five other churches to clean, refurbish, and furnish the parsonage. Carpet, blinds and curtains were removed, ceilings and walls washed and painted, floors refinished, furniture donated, and new appliances were purchased. In about nine or ten days of remarkable efforts and through generous donations of money and nearly round-the-clock labor, the house transformed into a very livable home. A few days later we welcomed a family evacuated from Afghanistan.
Memorial UMC of Charlotte has joined the pastors and congregants from these other churches in Charlotte – First UMC, Myers Park UMC, Dilworth UMC, The Vine UMC, and Providence UMC – to make this vision a reality. One church is covering the utilities for the first few months, other churches are providing transportation for the family to various appointments, one pastor is ensuring that medical attention is given to the children. We are working together to meet this need in our community, and I am grateful to all of those at Memorial whose efforts have gone towards creating a home for this family.
The family we have welcomed includes a mom and dad and their four children – two girls ages 8 and 9, and two boys ages 6 and 19 months. They have traveled from their home country to military bases in Europe and eventually to a tent camp in the U.S. and then arrived in Charlotte. Catholic Charities is re-settling about 200 persons from Afghanistan, and it is amazing that we get to be part of that process.
We have provided this family with booster seats and diapers, with food and clothes, and most importantly, with a roof over their heads and functioning appliances. I have talked to them many times, and they continue to express their appreciation for the generosity they have received. We are eager to continue helping this family settle into life here in the United States.