R E Lee Memorial
Episcopal Church

Growing in the Knowledge of God's Word

Building the Fellowship of the Church

Caring for One Another and the Community

Refugee Working Group

The Christian Outreach Committee of R. E. Lee Memorial Church, Lexington, Virginia (Diocese of Southwestern VA) is looking for a way or ways we might be able to help with the current refugee problem with our brothers and sisters in neighboring churches, mosques, synagogues, inter-faith and community based organizations.

To establish our frame of reference, we approach this from the experience of receiving Bishop Ben Ogwal who arrived in Lexington, with his family, in exile from Uganda in 1987. We continue to assist the Ogwal family who has been invited by the Archbishop of the Church in Uganda to return to his home to be the Interim Bishop of Kitgum Diocese. 

Our former presiding bishop, The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori offers advice and encouragement regarding the Syrian crisis and the need for relocating refugees. She outlines the case at: www.episcopalmigrationministries.org/how_you_can_help/syrian_refugee_crisis.aspx

 We are proceeding carefully, with every intention to enjoy coordination with established efforts within the Episcopal church, Refugee Organizations and in conjunction with our brothers and sisters in neighboring churches.


 We welcome your participation, in sharing this ministry.

We are so very happy to forward these recent professional pictures to each of you, showing the fine Kilozo family we have been supporting these past eight months (since March 11, 2016).


Mother, Jeanne Etunyemye; Father, Fahizi Msimbwa; and the Kilozo children: daughter, Marie (13); son, Cyprien (12); daughter, Masoka (8); daughter, Neema (6); daughter, Hasha (4); son, Matendo (2); and newly born – American citizen – Emanuel (September 7, 2016) are happy and well, with the children learning English at a fast pace. Indeed, we have received good reports from the schools. We admire the family for their eagerness to learn and positive attitude which contribute to their progress. The support of the schools (Waddell Elementary and Lylburn Downing Middle) has been incredible – from students to teachers, to the top of school administration. They have also received strong support from our local universities and numerous volunteers as they provided ESL (English Second Language) and translation assistance. Indeed, translation support has been ever so critical in the initial months, but we are now moving toward total immersion in English.


None of this would have been financially possible without the full support of Social Services, the health services and the Church World Service (the channel that we used to find this family) and the many contributions from individuals – most of you, the readers of this up-date.


Jeanne has received wonderful care from the medical community. Her Pre-natal care and delivery at LewisGale Hospital was excellent.

Fahizi has several jobs. Kroger’s, Napa Thai restaurant, ProCleaning Service have each worked to make his experience doable.


And, just a word about the funds they are receiving. There are several acronyms we could mention; but one in particular is descriptive of where we are headed, i.e., VIEW. Virginia Incentive for Employment not Welfare tells it all. Fahizi has every intention of becoming self-sustaining. Welfare is keeping them alive, but it’s not an objective – only a stage.


And to another point. We have recently put some of our surplus to very good use in the community.  We know that it has been a concern for some that while we assist this family, we not neglect our own local people. What we have been doing, forming teams and procedures for helping others can be replicated as we reach out to so many other friends in need.


From the beginning, we have had a leadership team, nearing some thirty dedicated women and men each eager to help – helping even before being asked. This team has done so very much such as cleaning in getting ready to receive the family in the later hours of that chilly night last March, cooking their first meals, teaching our American ways, taking the whole family to fit donated clothing, accompanying them to a myriad of appointments signing up for identification documents, constructing a wonderful vegetable garden for the family’s use, etc., etc. The list is very long, to be sure, more than space allows!


Our strategic plan is the be reasonably sure that the Kilozo family is on a trajectory for self-sufficiency before receiving a next refugee family for re-settlement. Our goal has been to settle three families – to give each a feeling of community as they move toward becoming contributing citizens.


We’re getting there, with your continuing help and support.


With thanks and deep appreciation,




Welcome our newest family to Lexington! 

 Fahizi Msimbwa (father), Jeanne Etunyemya (mother), Marie Makiwa (daughter 13), Cyprien (son 12), Masoka (daughter 8), Neema (daughter 6), Hasha (son 4),  Matendo (baby son)