Refugee Immigration Ministry was founded in 1986 as an Interfaith Ministry whose purpose was to offer Spiritual Care in the detention facilities. As RIM has expanded to other services the collaboration between faith groups has brought volunteers together from many cultures and faiths to provide community-based services to uprooted and often isolated persons.
Currently RIM’s programs include: Spiritual Care Givers, English Classes (within the communities), Job Placement Assistance, Training for Certified Nursing Assistants, Community-based Resettlement (Clusters).
RIM’s participating faith groups include: American Baptist, Buddhist, Episcopal, Hindu, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Society of Friends, Unitarian Univeralist, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, and United Presbyterian. By bringing uprooted people into a community they are able to build trust and can begin the process of rebuilding their lives. Community–based support helps clients to prepare for employment and to make the cultural adaptation necessary for success. Not only does the community welcome provide friendship, acculturation opportunities and support for clients, at the most vulnerable time of their lives, but it is enriching for volunteers. By sharing faith practices, and cultural customs RIM volunteers are enriched and inspired.
Meet our Staff
The Rev. Dr. Ruth H. Bersin is currently the Executive Director of Refugee Immigration Ministry in Boston. She is an Episcopal Priest with experience as a teacher and in the business world. She has extensive experience in immigration issues. Dr. Bersin founded a refugee programs for CWS in California (1978) and in New Haven, CT in 1982. She was Executive Director for Tokyo English Life Line from 1989-1992 and served as a Civilian clergy person on the Yokosuka Navy Base at that time.
Dr. Bersin is a clinical member of American Association of Pastoral Counselors and a member of the Association of Trauma Stress Specialists. She is a Pastoral Psychotherapist at the New England Pastoral Institute in Salem, NH. She has training as a chaplain in a reform school, in a medical center and she received a trauma certificate from the Trauma Center in Brookline in 1997. In addition, she received specialized training for police chaplaincy in 1996 following her work as Team Leader for the National Organization of Victim Assistance in response to the Oklahoma City bombing. From 2002-2004, she provided training for volunteer chaplains for detention centers in across the country. In 2008, she received training in Community Crisis Response and has joined the Community Crisis Response Team of the Victims of Violence Program at the Cambridge Health Alliance and in collaboration with the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants she organized a conference for Refugee Service Providers.
Dr. Bersin has written on Spirituality in the Recovery Process after Traumatic Experience and has given papers on the subject to numerous conferences including the Episcopal East Coast Military Chaplains Conference, Association of Trauma Stress Specialists, and American Association of Pastoral Counselors. She has published an article: “Healing Traumatic Memories: A Spiritual Journey.” in Theological Literacy for the 21st Century, Eerdmans, 2002 and “Life Beyond the Gates.” in The Antoich Agenda, Andover Newton Theological School and The Boston Theological Institute, New Delhi, 2007.
Dr. Bersin received her B.S. in Education from Indiana University, an M. A. in Religion from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a D. Min. from the Graduate Theological Foundation. She received her Ph D in Pastoral Psychotherapy at the Graduate Theological Foundation in 2008. Her dissertation topic: “ Community-based Resettlement: Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Asylees Rebuild Their Lives with the Help of Congregations and Community.”
Rev. Isaac Seelam works for The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts and helps with international student's internships and field education. He can be reached at Seelam@TABCOM.org or 781-322-1011 x 305.
Annie Athyal, MSW She comes with many years of experience as a social worker and is responsible for RIM's Case Management
Jamie Sarapoulas is coordinating Volunteers.