Some churches refuse to stop helping Syrian refugees

Some Christian churches told FOX 4 that they will ignore Gov. Greg Abbott's directive to refuse to help them.

However, Abbott went a step further than trying to decline refugees. He says he now wants Syrian refugees who have been resettled in Texas since 2012 to be screened, and Abbott appointed a "refugee coordinator" for the state -- Cecile Young, who's the chief of staff of the state Health and Human Services Commission.

Abbott is one of some 30 governors who say Syrian refugees are not welcome because of terrorist concerns. The White House held a conference call on Tuesday with those governors about the issue.

Under the governor's efforts to block Syrian refugees, churches with refugee outreach programs are left to sort through what government leaders are saying

Some Christian church leaders say that they will continue to help refugees no matter their religion or where they come from.

In the 14 years since her church welcomed young refugees from Sudan in 2001, Nita Thomason says she's found more and more reasons to expand her church family in Richardson.

“They have taught us to pray in ways that we have never prayed before because they have known God as their only provider,” said Thomason, who volunteers at Woodcreek Church.

Even after attacks in Paris, she plans to continue her work unafraid.

“I just have realized through the years that we have a lot to give each other,” she said. “It's not a one-way street. I hope they get it worked out...because we're going to work with whoever is here.”

Likewise, Pastor Greg Brandenburg of Fellowship Bible Church in Dallas says the refugee outreach program at his church will not withhold help to Syrians.

“I'm probably less concerned about a Syrian refugee causing problems than some country guy in Palestine causing problems for some family that wants to go camping,” said Brandenburg. “We got lots of problem with security in our country, and I am not nearly as concerned with some of those people who will be vetted who we have an actual relationship with than I am with some other issues going on in our country right now.”

On Monday, Catholic Charities of Dallas, which resettles refugees, said it would stop per the governor's directive.

Tuesday, it briefly published a statement on its website reaffirming the decision, then took it down, signaling perhaps a conflict in what to say in these tense times.

“I hope Dallas, Dallas of all places, with as many churches and Christians and wonderful people we have, can be an example to the churches in the rest of the country,” said Rebecca Walls, Executive Director of Unite of Greater Dallas.

Walls is working with area churches to get them on the same page and hopes that churches will trust the vetting process and welcome those seeking refuge in Texas from Syria.

“If you look at the whole of gospel, we are not told to be like ostriches and stick our heads in the sand, we are told to rise up with the wings of eagles, and I would much rather be an eagle than an ostrich,” said Thomason.

For a while now, churches who have refugee outreach programs expected to see an influx of Syrian refugees.

Unite of Greater Dallas says it planned a meeting for Tuesday to talk with churches about their plan weeks ago, but that meeting happened to fall the day after Gov. Abbott joined other governors to say Syrians wouldn't be welcomed in the state.

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