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Report: Myanmar Ministries in the USA

Starting in 2007, a flood of refugees arrived in the USA from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Some 2,000 of those refugees are Anglicans from the Church of the Province of Myanmar, a 70,000 strong Anglican church that bears witness to Jesus under very difficult and sometimes violent conditions. These Anglicans are refugees because they were driven from their homes.

The Anglican Church in North America has found, and is assisting, nearly 1,000 of those Anglican refugees. The need to provide safe parishes and orthodox leadership has led to a group of priests and parishes working cooperatively to make this a reality.

The history of conflict in Myanmar has led to both internally and externally displaced peoples. While we seek to minister to both groups, our emphasis is on those who have come out of the refugee camps (in Thailand). They are resettled by the UN Human Services in the USA. On arrival the UN provides for short term, basic needs such as accommodation, a small cash allowance and a medical card. That is when they need our help to adjust to a new life, find a community of faith, and get a job. This is what Myanmar Ministries does.

At present we are ministering to refugees in 23 states. One major challenge is finding employment. This resulted in a second wave of migrations as families move to cities where there are jobs and affordable housing. This means once again facing the challenge of finding schools, medical care, food stamps and English language classes.

The Anglican Church remains the one constant in all of the challenges which the refugee families face. The interaction between established congregations and the new arrivals has been a wonderful expression of God’s love being expressed through the ministry of welcome, hospitality and hope. Myanmar Anglicans want to be part of our parishes here, not their own ethnic congregations. They believe that Anglicans should worship together. Congregations have responded wholeheartedly, despite the severe strain on their resources.

As refugees here make contact with each other, families are resettling in fewer parishes around the country. This allows for increased national and cultural identity, but also for better pastoral oversight. Fr Samuel Nyan Lynn, a priest from Myanmar, has been called to assist the work with refuges around the country. He was appointed by the archbishop of Myanmar, Stephen Than Myint Oo, and works under the auspices of the Anglican Church in North America.

The next wave of Anglican refugees from Myanmar is about to hit North America, as there is a concerted effort to empty out the camps in Thailand. The Anglican Church here will see several hundred families appear in our parishes in the near future. If you would like to volunteer to help or be an intercessor for this growing need, please {encode=”admin@anglicanchurch.net” title=”contact us”}. If you are moved to help the Anglican Church in North America with the funding of this important work, contributions can be made online or by check. Checks should be made out to the Anglican Church in North America and mailed to 800 Maplewood Ave, P.O. Box 447, Ambridge, PA, 15003.

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