Guilford Church Stands as Beacon of Hope for Refugees

For decades, First Congregational Church of Guilford has been a beacon of hope on the Connecticut shoreline for refugee families coming to the United States. But now, the church is attempting to chart a new course in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s executive orders suspending the United States refugee program and banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.

“To see actions being taken, which are absolutely clearly anti-immigrant, seems as though it’s against what our country stands for,” Craig Mullet, chair of the church’s board of community and world concerns, said.

Mullet is himself an immigrant, coming to the U.S. in 1999 from South Africa, where he was an anti-apartheid campaigner.

The president’s executive order hits close to home for this nearly 400 year-old congregation.

Since 2000, they’ve assisted refugees from five of the seven countries on the travel ban list, including a Syrian family in 2016.

“We continue to believe that all people have the right to be valued, respected and safe. We think that should permeate all policies” Rev. Sarah Verasco said.

Over the years, the church’s board of community and world concerns has served as something of a liaison for refugees in their new, unfamiliar homes, connecting them to basic services like schools, jobs, housing and clothing.

Ministers said they believe the ban is fundamentally wrong.

“When politics step in and on our faith, on our basic belief system, obviously we speak up” Rev. Dr. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham said.

Because of that, the Christian church in Glastonbury remains firm in its mission of welcoming all and being allies to the Muslim community.

Despite critics who refer to the action as a “Muslim ban,” Trump said the order is “not about religion” but keeping Americans safe

“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border,” Trump said in a statement on Sunday.

First Congregational Church of Guilford has planned an interfaith forum Sunday that includes Christian leaders, a rabbi and an imam.

Read more here for what the travel ban means and what’s next. 

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