Deadline near for Boise refugee workshop Feb. 5-6


Refugees and United Methodists gather in BoiseFriday (Jan. 26) is the deadline for church leaders interested in addressing refugee issues to attend a conference in Boise and have it paid for by the Oregon-Idaho United Methodist Conference.

The Idaho Office of Refugees is putting on its annual conference of refugees in Boise Feb. 5-6. The cost to attend is $110; however, the Oregon-Idaho UMC Committee on Church and Society is using Peace with Justice funds to cover the cost of any clergy or laity in the Conference who wishes to attend.

The deadline to apply for the conference and receive the matching funds is Friday, according to Donna Boe, chair of the Oregon-Idaho Committee on Church and Society.

“I’m hoping it will let people learn a lot more about refugees in Idaho,” Boe said.

As she understands it, many factors have lead to the recent resettlement of refugees in places like Twin Falls and Boise. It’s been a combination of outreach efforts by the College of Southern Idaho, Chobani Yogurt promoting the hiring of refugees for its plant in Twin Falls and churches inspired by scripture to get involved.

They’ve come from places like the Congo, Syria and other African nations. Typically, these immigrants have come to the United States after seeking refuge in camps along the borders of their home country.

“They are fleeing their homes because of war or other conflict,” Boe said. “They are fleeing for their lives.”

The Idaho Office of Refugees in Boise is part of a non-profit human service agency called Jannus, Inc. The non-profit agency focuses on helping individuals, families and communities in transition. The Idaho Office for Refugees promotes mutual understanding between refugees and the larger community by sharing information, encouraging social interaction and developing opportunities for refugees to participate in all aspects of community life.

The Idaho Annual Conference on Refugees is an opportunity for individuals committed to this work to network and attend workshops on everything from data driven program design to English as a Second Language and more.

The theme this year is “Resiliency: Thriving in the Face of Adversity.” The keynote speaker will be Ishmael Beah, the “New York Times” best-selling author of “A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” and “Radiance of Tomorrow, A Novel.” Beah was born in Sierra Leone and now calls the Los Angeles area home with his family.

Boe said it’s important for individuals within the United Methodist Church to be engaged in this work.

“Jesus says to welcome the stranger,” she said. “So many of (the refugees) contribute to our country and our communities.”

Contact Boe at donnaboe@cableone.net for more information on Peace with Justice registration funds. Follow this link to register for the Idaho Conference on Refugees.