INDIANAPOLIS -- What was planned as a small meet-and-greet quickly grew into an informational meeting of minds at Epworth United Methodist Church.
Residents met at the church Friday night to help welcome old and new Syrian refugees to Indianapolis.
As lights dimmed, souls were enlightened to the plight of people thousands of miles away.
"No Syrian wants to be a refugee. They just want safety for their children and a place to call home,” Nora Basha explained to a crowd of Indianapolis community members.
A new home where their children can be playful, happy and fed with the hope of a brighter future.
This is the dream Mohammed Bakur says he clung to for his family for more than two years. His translator, Lina Madani, explained, "He's very thankful for everyone here. To have his kids in school."
And to be reunited with his brother-in-law, who is also a Syrian Refugee. His arrival caused controversy because Governor Mike Pence temporarily banned Indiana from accepting Syrian Refugees.
But Catholic Charities and other religious institutions disagreed.
"You are our brothers and sisters and we stand in solidarity with you,” Elizabeth Standiford of Exodus told the refugees who had gathered in the room.
All lit candles to grieve people they've lost while still clinging on to the hope of a peaceful future as is the case of Paula and Ed Kassig whose son was murdered by terrorists.
"Keep your hearts open to those who could use a leg up. You will strengthen America as you welcome the newcomers,” Paula told the room.
It’s an idea many in this room hope will catch on outside these walls in the legislature.
"Our message to governor Mike Pence today is that we know that you are a good man with noble intentions and a responsibility to keep Hoosiers safe. We don't take that lightly. We know how much you have given for our state and its citizens. However, we are confident if you meet with these families and hear these stories you may reconsider where you stand today,” Basha said.
Governor Mike Pence was invited to the meeting but did not attend because he said he had a scheduling conflict.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller did attend the meet and greet but did not address the crowd.