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Newcomer Ministry

America is a land of immigrants. Coptic youth continue to come to the U.S. by various means, especially in light of the difficult circumstances in Egypt today. Many of the recent newcomers are here as a result of relatives who are U.S. citizens who sponsored them, as a result of the lottery which is a new immigration program, or as applicants for political asylum.

This new immigrant group is a benefit and a challenge to the Coptic Church in America. Their presence helps keep the connection with the mother Church in Egypt strong. They also strengthen the traditional values of the Coptic Society in America. However, many of them do not have the same professional skills that new immigrants had in the past. Some of them feel lost and have difficulty adjusting to the new culture and job market with demands very different from those in Egypt. They will however, continue to come as long as life is difficult in Egypt, the lure of America exists, and the laws of immigration in the United States remain reasonable.

Waves of immigrants have come to the U.S. since the 1960s. Most of the early newcomers were professionals who adapted easily to American society. As Copts sponsored their relatives after becoming U.S. citizens, a new mixed type of immigrants came. The language barrier, lack of American experience, misunderstanding of the job market and its swings, and often living in substandard conditions compared to their life in Egypt present disillusion and often despair among many.

They flock to the churches expecting help. Some churches receive more of these newcomers than others. Some churches have individuals who are knowledgeable and willing to help. However, this is a very time consuming task and often brings results slowly to the disappointment of newcomers. Children and young people adapt easily to school and are successful. Older people have a hard time with responsibilities beyond their expectations. There is an obvious need to organize services for these families including how to receive benefits, find jobs, appropriate housing, medical care, etc.

Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

July 17, 2012