Church World Service programs

Paul Jeffrey/CWS-Caritas

Millions of people worldwide live on the edge of subsistence, at the will of fragile economies, struggling to escape the crushing grip of poverty and powerlessness.  And, millions more have fled their home countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution.  It is with and for these people that Church World Service exists.  We carry out our work in these major program areas.

Development and Humanitarian Assistance

Many of our neighbors around the world are hungry--and they need more than a handout.  They need a way out. Hunger means different things in different places... In the Horn of Africa it may mean crop failures, food shortages, and famine resulting from prolonged drought. Families and communities may need emergency food, as well as seeds for replanting. In the highlands of Bolivia, it may mean malnutrition resulting from inadequate protein in the family diet. There training in fish farming can mean improved health for parents and children. Our bodies also need an adequate supply of clean water to survive and thrive. So, in many communities, clean water wells--along with improved irrigation for gardens--can mean life and health.

CWS helps create pockets of education and innovation, enterprise and collaboration, powered by local ingenuity and nurtured by the self-respect that inevitably flows from it. Creative initiatives by impoverished people are making a difference. If we work together, we can build a world that works for all--a world where there's enough for all.

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The CWS also helps vulnerable people and communities prepare for and recover from natural and human-caused disaster. CWS addresses long-term physical, psychological and spiritual recovery, and helps communities develop strategies for the future. To do this CWS engages its member communions and others to join in disaster preparedness, mitigation and response. When disaster strikes, whether in the U.S. or around the world, CWS encourages the faith community to join together so that the most vulnerable families and individuals receive the assistance they need.

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Immigration and Refugees

The CWS Immigration and Refugee Program was created by several Protestant denominations that came together at the end of World War II to respond to the needs of refugees in Europe. Since 1946, CWS has helped more than 450,000 refugees begin new lives in the United States, and continues to resettle about 8,000 more refugees and Cuban and Haitian entrants each year.

Church World Service, seven participating denominations and their congregations, and 34 CWS local affiliates affiliates in 21 states work together to meet the needs of refugees upon their arrival in the United States, assisting them as they strive to attain self-sufficiency. A growing number of local affiliates provide immigration legal services along with refugee resettlement services.

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Relationships and Witness 

Framing issues collaboratively with U.S. communions and international partners, CWS helps people speak out on key issues to their representatives in Congress, and to other leaders and public policy decision-makers.

Partnership is the key.  Given the opportunity, people the world over can have the strength and knowledge to take the lead in addressing their own challenges. So, one of the best ways to help is to listen... to learn... and to share resources appropriate to people’s needs. Building partner relationships around the world, as well as here in the U.S., is a hallmark of Church World Service. In partnership, we are engaging councils of churches across the U.S. and worldwide to bring new commitment and vitality to ecumenical mission, and we are nurturing interfaith dialogue and cooperation, essential to our work in the 21st century.

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Paul Jeffrey/CWS-Caritas