Interfaith Refugee Ministry: Celebrating 30 Years of Hope
In 1992, Interfaith Refugee Ministry (IRM) was formed and based in New Bern with the purpose of encouraging churches in eastern North Carolina to respond to the needs of refugees and to provide a supportive network of resources and information for these groups.
Rosemary Stark was the force behind the establishment of IRM and was the first Board Chair and volunteer director. She had moved to New Bern from Connecticut where she had been involved with refugees and approached Bishop Sanders about beginning a program in this area. The Board Chair and all other Board members were appointed by the Right Reverend Sidney Sanders, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina. The group then became an affiliate of Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), recruited churches and began its life saving mission of refugee resettlement. New Bern in particular turned out to be a nearly ideal spot for refugees with its welcoming of residents and international companies willing to take a chance on strangers from far away.
In its earliest years, IRM resettled refugees throughout East Carolina including Morehead City, Kinston, Goldsboro, Greenville, Fayetteville, Mt. Olive, Edenton, Elizabeth City, and Wilmington. Churches acted as “co-sponsors” which meant they performed many services (core services) required by Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), the Bureau for Refugees and Migrants (PRM) under the U.S. Department of State, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) under the Department of Health and Human Services. For last 30 years, IRM has welcomed over 2800+ refugees and continues this mission today. This summer, IRM will host the “30 Years of Hope” Online Auction from June 10-24 to raise awareness and funds for the refugees in our area.