World Refugee Day is June 20th. Most years, we share our World Refugee Day Toolkit (bottom of the page) that is packed full of great resources and worship ideas to use in our churches. However, with most congregations moving to online services during the current pandemic, we wanted to share some adapted materials that your church can use in an online setting. We trust that these will be helpful to your worship planning, and pray that your communities will find many creative ways to remain places of welcome and hospitality during these difficult times.
For updates from the American context please check out these videos.
How are those who claim refugee status at the Canadian border being affected by the pandemic? Join our conversation with Alison Witt and Danielle Steenwyk-Rowaan from Open Homes Hamilton to learn more about how you can support refugee claimants in Canada.
Sponsored refugees arrive in Canada either through a private sponsorship (which CRC churches have been involved in for decades) or government sponsorship. Anita Booy joins us from Sonlight CRC in Regina, SK to share about the impacts of the pandemic on private sponsorship groups, and Dena Nicolai from World Renew’s sponsorship program shares about her work with government sponsored refugees.
Global Refugees and Displaced Peoples
The impacts of the pandemic are widespread, and refugees who are currently fleeing unsafe situations or living in refugee camps are particularly vulnerable. In this video, Joseph Mutebi, who works with World Renew in Uganda, and JJ TenClay, the RCA’s Refugee Ministry Coordinator, share about how refugees journeys are further challenged by the pandemic, but also about how we can offer prayers and support.
What can you do to support refugees right now?
For Refugees Settling in Canada
We pray for those who are resettling in this country even now.
We pray for your Spirit to be actively with them in all the new and unknowns:
New cities, unknown streets, new houses, unknown neighbours;
New processes, forms, policies, rules;
New customs, languages, postures;
New schools, assignments, jobs, tasks.
Grant peace and provision, endurance and hope.
Bring soul friends to come walk beside them for this part of their journey.
Be present to the children as they grow and navigate their identities.
Speak "beloved" to them.
Work in us all who live here to create places of belonging,
for it is in belonging to you and to each other
that your grace transforms us all.
For Refugees in Camps
For those who have walked away from everything they knew, we ask for your mercy.
For those who are far from home, far from community and identity, we ask for your mercy.
For those who cannot wash with soap and water, we ask for your mercy.
For those who have little resources, little choice, we ask for your mercy.
Grant the community leaders in refugee camps wisdom.
Provide and protect, we beseech you.
Flood the camps with your grace and fill each shelter with your sense of peace.
For Refugees in Transit, Coming to Borders
For those who are walking now, surround them with your Spirit of Peace.
For those who have made camp for the night knowing they cannot go back
and they cannot go forward, we ask for you to provide rest and resources.
In their time of need, lead them to safety and kindness.
Open doors for them, even in us, Lord.
Oh Lord, do not forget the littlest - you said you would not forget the hairs on their heads.
It is said you lead to still waters - do not forget them Lord.
Do not let us forget them either.
Advocate - #HearUsOut Canada Action Alert or Continuing Welcome
Speak up and speak out to our federal and provincial leaders about caring for vulnerable populations, including refugees, during the pandemic. Click on the Action Alert above and fill out your info to have a ready-made template to send to your MPs and MPPs/MLAs.
- World Renew is providing urgent humanitarian assistance to refugee communities around the world, including food to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh; hygiene kits and vouchers to Syrian refugees in Lebanon so they can purchase food from local markets; cash cards to Venezuelan refugees in Colombia, which is critical for many families who have recently been unable to work because of movement restrictions related to COVID-19; and many other places. To learn more visit www.worldrenew.ca
- Even in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which is impacting refugees in significant ways, World Renew’s Refugee Sponsorship and Resettlement Program continues to provide guidance and support to sponsoring churches and the expertise needed to facilitate the process of churches sponsoring and resettling refugees to Canada. To learn more about the program and to support the work of the Refugee program please visit, https://worldrenew.ca/refugee-sponsorship
- As your church reaches out to sponsor refugees, putting faith into action, please consider ways in which you can support your sponsorship team either through financial contributions and/or by volunteering to welcome and walk alongside the newcomers in their adjustment to a new life in Canada.
Volunteer / Welcome
During the pandemic, many of the volunteer activities we could ususally get involved with are not possible, but you can still find ways to volunteer from a distance. You can also find ways to foster and environement of welcome in your home, church, and community.
- Connect to your church's sponsorship group and ask how you can help with refugees already being supported - some helpful ideas are dropping off groceries, searching for housing, social distance friendship visits, etc.
- Look up your local resettlement agency and ask how you can help - many community groups are moving to virtual volunteering oppourtunities, like youth menotoring, teaching ESL, or tutoring online.
- Be an ally to refugees as you combat scarcity mentalities and Canadians-frist rhetoric that can bubble up amidst the uncertaintiy of the pandemic. Remember that our call to welcome the stranger doesn't go away because of lockdowns or social distancing. Read this resource from the UNHCR that demonstrates how refugees contribute positively to Canada's economy and society. Are Refugees Good for Canada? Yes!
World Refugee Day Toolkit
While much of the resources in this toolkit may be difficult to use during the pandemic, pages 19-23 have scripture passages, sermon examples, litanies, songs and other worship resources to use when celebrating World Refugee Day at your church on June 20th..
Refugee Fact Sheets
Persecution, war, and violence have forced more than 25. 9 million refugees to flee their homes; over half of whom are children. The world is witnessing the refugee population continue to remain at a record high. Here in Canada, we have welcomed newcomers through our Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSRP) along with refugee claimants at our Canadian borders. It is a faithful response to our Christian calling to welcome the stranger and love our neighbours.
We have developed resources for congregations to reflect on the current global refugee crisis as well as learn about refugee claimants in Canada. Let us remember that behind each statistic is a person; a person faced with challenging life experiences and dreams for the future and hope for a better life.
Looking for even more resources? Fine out more about World Renew's Refugee Sponsorship program at this link. For more resources on refugee justice from the Centre for Public Dialogue access this link.