Refugees and the Church

 In Telling a Better Story

February 2, 2021

Last fall, immigration advocate, Christy Staats, had a conversation with Kara Ulmer, the former director of World Relief Akron. Kara shares her experiences in refugee resettlement as well as how she saw the Church respond both positively and negatively towards refugees. As President Biden plans to increase the number of refugees admitted to the United States in the coming days, this conversation is a timely and useful roadmap for how the Church can better welcome refugees in our communities.

Christy Staats is from Stow, Ohio, and went to Miami University. She worked as a missionary with Cru for 15 years, 11 of which were in the UK and is now affiliate staff. She helped create Crossings, a refugee ministry for her church in 2015 and Cru’s IIR (int’l, immigrant and refugee) initiative simultaneously. It was in training churches in northeast Ohio in cross cultural ministry to help them get involved in welcoming refugees that she discovered our broken our immigration system. She now does advocacy work that includes mobilizing churches, encouraging distinctly biblical responses to the challenges and opportunities of immigration in the U.S. She is finishing her Masters in Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. 


Kara Ulmer currently works with MetroHealth, a nationally recognized public health hospital, to connect quality jobs to communities in the Cleveland area.  Formerly the Director of the World Relief Akron office, a refugee resettlement agency, she helped to resettle 415 refugees to their new homes in Akron, OH. Prior to World Relief, Kara directed the international non-profit, Freedom Stones International, a social-enterprise working with over 100 human trafficking survivors or at risk artisans in Ghana, West Africa, Thailand, and Cambodia. Before beginning work in the community development field, Kara was Director of Strategic Planning & Analytics for Barclays Bank in England, one of the top 10 largest international banks. She currently lives in Akron, Ohio and has helped start local girls programs in the Summit Lake area through South Street Ministries.  She loves to learn, travel, and catch novel glimpses of life through different cultures.

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