New Easter traditions begin for refugees in Missoula

Posted at 3:27 PM, Apr 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-22 18:54:59-04

MISSOULA – The rich sound of the guitar and the beating of drums could be heard in downtown Missoula on Easter Sunday.

Refugee families from Congo gathered to celebrate and worship God in the open space just as they have every Sunday for the past two weeks.

The families arrived in Missoula more than two years ago.

“Its really awesome to see the families that we resettled two and a half years ago starting to give back, really integrating into the community,” said Jen Barlie with the International Rescue Committee in Missoula.

“We’re just really excited that the families are getting comfortable enough to sort of organize you know themselves and organize a congregation like this. It’s pretty powerful.”

Joel Kambale, one of the co-founders of the Universal Revival Church which they established two months ago, said it was important that everyone feel welcome no matter their history or race.

He told MTN News that’s why the services are spoken in both Swahili and English.

Missoula Congo Church
Refugee families from Congo gather to celebrate and worship God in downtown Missoula. (MTN News photo)

“We invite them to join us so we can do the work of god together. Because God has no this is Africa this is North America, this is black this is white,” Kambale said.

“God knows human beings. So It would be good for them to come together so that we can really praise together and worship together,” he added.

“They work hard, they want the best for their families, best for their children. And I think you know to have a place to worship for them is really important,” Barlie stated.

“I know that they have been welcomed by many congregations in Missoula — which has been really amazing,” she continued. “But for them to have a space where they can practice their traditional religious — you know culture, singing, dancing, is really important.”

Services take place at the Public House every Sunday from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. and are open to the public.

Reporting by Lauren Heiser for MTN News