Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

University UCC partners to share Afghan family

University Congregational UCC’s Immigrant Justice Committee is co-sponsoring a family through the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia Refugee Resettlement Office with Prospect UCC and University Temple United Methodist Church.

They began reaching out to learn about the agencies resettling in Seattle and participated in webinars with Irene Hassan of the national UCC.

“Refugee offices ramped up, but were overwhelmed with the numbers of refugees coming,” said Cassie Emanuel of the church’s resettlement committee.

Initially, they provided a welcome kit, stocking their pantry with food for a Halal diet. They also found a small mosque to attend in Renton

They have team of 25 volunteers divided in task groups to help orient them to the community. One is responsible for furnishings, a second is doing ESL work, a third is doing school enrollment and a fourth is providing assistance with finding health care and a fifth is taking them shopping for seasonal clothing and orienting them to the community.

The churches are also responsible for raising funds to cover rent and utilities when they find housing.

The diocesan resettlement office provides a case manager. The Episcopal Diocese is contracted with the U.S. government to assist them for three months, but suggests the churches commit to walk beside the family for a year.

The children ages six to 18 need to be enrolled in elementary, middle and high school and community college.

Only one member of the family has working knowledge of English, said Cassie. The rest have mixed levels of English.

“So we have been able to manage without an interpreter,” she said.

Housing is the main struggle, because the family needs permanent housing for the children to register for school and the parents to get jobs. The children have been out of school eight months.

They arrived in September at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, and came to Washington in late January, staying in an Airbnb, free housing and an extended stay in a motel.

“When they find an apartment, we can provide more support, helping them navigate the neighborhood, learn the nearby bus routes find medical care and furniture.

“We have good leads, but finding housing for a family of eight is hard,” she said.

“For our congregation, it helps members be more aware of the rest of the world and extend our ministry beyond our doors,” said Cassie, a retired UCC pastor from New Hampshire who moved to Seattle to be near grandchildren. 

She has been involved with University Congregational UCC for 10 years.

Cassie also went with a group including some from Prospect UCC to take a welcome meal to the family and were surprised that the family had prepared a meal for them.

“They extended hospitality to us and served us a feast with their meager resources,” Cassie said. “They are teaching us as much as we are helping them manage in a new world for them,” she said.

For information, call 206-384-6111 or email

Prospect UCC sponsors a family with University UCC

Prospect UCC in Seattle church is partnering with University Congregational UCC to sponsor an Afghan refugee family of eight.

Recently, eight volunteers from the two churches prepared a welcome meal.

Cora Trujillo of Prospect loaded it and five of the group in her car. They drove to Tacoma in rush hour traffic to deliver the meal to the family.

Whether it was because of a miscommunication or because of their generosity, they also prepared a meal,” Cora said. “Even though they speak little English and communication was difficult, we learned about their experiences and needs.

“I sensed frustration,” Cora said. “They have been moved at least four times from one housing situation to another. It’s a difficult task to find permanent low-cost housing in the south Seattle area, but they can’t look for work or enroll their children in school until they have permanent housing.

“All are anxious to learn or improve their English. The six-year-old girl showed me \ she could count to 100, name colors and parts of the body in English,” she said. “They are ready to start one on one tutoring as soon as possible”

Cora said the mother, a seamstress, asked for a sewing machine. The eldest son asked for a laptop so he can attend college to study computer technology. The two oldest sons and the parents want work.

To this family, coming to America means hope,” she said.

Cora drove home with renewed gratitude for being a citizen of the U.S.

“America, with all our problems, is a beacon of hope for so many. Why can’t I be grateful every day, just for where I live?” she asked.

“Please join me in praying for this deserving family and for the gratitude for the hope they have that their dreams will be fulfilled,” Cora said.

For information, call 206-322-6030 or email


Pacific NW Conference United Church News - © April 2022


Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share