Refugees and Displaced People

He will have compassion on the poor and the needy … From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and their blood will be precious in his sight. Psalm 72:13-14

The Church of the Brethren has a long tradition of responding to the needs of refugees and displaced people in the U.S. and around the world.

"The primary truth of faith as we consider... refugees today is that Christ has made another appearance among us, as Himself a... refugee in the person of political dissidents, the economically deprived, and foreigners on the run. We are to join them as pilgrims in search of that city yet to come, with foundations of love and justice whose architect and builder is God." Church of the Brethren Annual Conference statement, 1982

Church of the Brethren congregations live out their faith when welcoming refugees.
Read their stories (from Messenger magazine)

Join us in responding to a world with more refugee and forcibly displaced people than any other time in history.

On this page:

Help welcome and resettle refugees in the United States

Support refugees and displaced people closer to their homes

Advocate for refugees and displaced people

Refugee Resettlement in the United States

The Church of the Brethren encourages its members to support the efforts of partner agencies to resettle refugees in US communities. Find out how YOU can help refugees arriving in the U.S. through Church World Service or one of the other organizations involved in refugee resettlement.

This Syrian refugee family is eager to start their new life away from the violence and fear in their country. By Jovana Savic, courtesy of CWS
Photo by Jovana Savic, courtesy of Church World Service.

A Syrian refugee family eager to start their new life away from the violence and fear in their country.

Church World Service has refugee and immigration offices spread across 21 different states. Find out how you can help to welcome a refugee in your area.

Episcopal Migration Ministries has offices and affiliates around the country which support refugees as they settle into their communities.

The Refugees Welcome campaign, supported by the Church of the Brethren, is a coalition of humanitarian, religious, and non-profit organizations working together to create welcoming communities for refugees. Find a welcoming event near you or host one in your community.

Contact Brethren Disaster Ministries for additional information on refugee resettlement.

Supporting Refugees and Displaced People

The Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund supports refugees and forcibly displaced families through a network of partners and Brethren Disaster Response programs. For more information, contact Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Current major programs include:

The Nigeria Crisis Response supports people displaced due to violence in northeast Nigeria through our sister church, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN). The current focus is on helping families and communities begin rebuilding, while still giving aid to those who cannot safely return home.

A displaced Nigerian family receives food and household items. Most families left their homes with little or no possessions. Photo by David Sollenberger
Photo by David Sollenberger

A displaced Nigerian family receives food and household items. Most families left their homes with little or no possessions.

Nigerian girls displaced by violence in Northeast Nigeria. Photo by Karen Hodges
Photo by Karen Hodges

Nigerian girls displaced by violence in Northeast Nigeria.

Support for Syria Refugee Crisis programs include partnering with agencies in countries surrounding Syria, and in Europe, that are caring for those in the greatest need. For example, the Church of the Brethren supports the work of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development, which assists refugees and displaced people in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Syrian children in a refugee camp in Jordan. By Paul Jeffrey, ACT Alliance
Photo by Paul Jeffrey, ACT Alliance

Syrian children in a refugee camp in Jordan.


The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness provides resources and up to date information on many issues, including refugees and displaced people, and highlights advocacy opportunities. Sign up to receive alerts that bring you the latest news and actions you can take. Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries are also active in advocating for refugees.

“As the conflict in Syria escalates, our mercy and compassion cannot be selective. Refusing to aid those fleeing violence and injustice, especially on the basis of religion, likens us to the priest and the Levite who ignored the dying man on the road to Jericho. Giving in to words that demean Muslims betrays our belief that everyone is a child of God.” —Former General Secretary, Stan Noffsinger

Displaced People in 2015

Of the 65.3 million people displaced from their homes

  • ✔ 21.3 million are externally displaced (refugees)
  • ✔ 40.8 million are internally displaced
  • ✔ 3.2 million seek asylum
  • ✔ 51% of refugees are children under 18
  • ✔ 98,400 unaccompanied or separated children seek asylum, a three-fold increase over 2014
  • ✔ Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees
  • ✔ Lebanon has the highest refugee per population rate – nearly 1 in 5 individuals are refugees

Number of displaced by selected home country:

Syria 11,690,327
Colombia 7,288,004
Iraq 4,915,827
Afghanistan 4,434,853
South Sudan 2,573,550
Nigeria 2,392,402

Source - Global Trends – Forced Displacement in 2015, published by UNHCR, June 2016

Every five seconds from Church of the Brethren on Vimeo.

Who is a refugee?

Refugees flee their countries because of armed conflict or persecution. (Learn more)

  • They do not leave voluntarily. They see no other option for safety and survival.
  • They usually leave quickly, carrying little, with little ability to support themselves.
  • Women are particularly vulnerable to abuse.
  • Refugee children endure fear, hunger, insecurity, homelessness, stigma—and hopelessness.

A refugee's journey from Church of the Brethren on Vimeo.

How are refugees screened?

Before a refugee enters the United States, that person has undergone the most rigorous refugee screening process in the world, including intensive biographic and biometric security checks. Refugees from Syria and Iraq undergo an enhanced screening process. The vetting process can take 18-24 months but many must wait up to 4 years or more before they are approved for resettlement in the US. Additional information: