There are more refugees and displaced people living in the world today than at any other time in our history. Thousands more are forced to flee their homes each day.
In the spirit of recognizing the strength, courage and perseverance of refugees-- and in an effort to show public support for those who have endured so much--the world marks June 20 of each year as World Refugee Day.
In the days and weeks leading up to June 20, churches from all kinds of traditions and backgrounds will engage in a wide range of activities and events in observance of World Refugee Day--including the celebration of Refugee and Immigrant Welcome Sunday as Disciples.
Some churches are even finding creative ways of engaging children and youth in the process.
Pastor Cheryl Delaney (Director of Children’s Ministries at North Canton Community Christian Church, OH) is taking the awareness of refugees to Church Camp in the Ohio Region. Campers at Camp Christian next week will make drawings and videos and write letters in support of refugees, after watching a video of Disciples testimony about care for refugees and having some conversation. Then they hope to take their messages of welcome to a local legislative office, encouraging their lawmakers to do more to welcome refugees in the coming year. The hope is that this model might be replicated in other camps, groups and Sunday school settings-- for youth and adults alike!
As part of Vacation Bible School, children at Beargrass Christian Church (Louisville, KY) will be making CWS school kits. As they learn about the story of The Good Samaritan--and how to show kindness to neighbors-- the kids will also learn how their gifts of service and school supplies can help those in need. Church World Service kits give displaced children what they need in order to go to school--even if they’ve been displaced and are living in a camp far from home.
Far from just teaching children and youth the value of serving others, projects like these also help young people learn what life is like for those who have been displaced; and how the church is called to respond to those who are searching for home.
If your church is participating in Refugee Welcome Sunday, or observing World Refugee Day in some special way, we would love to hear about it! For more ideas, or for worship and promotional resources, please visit Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries website. It is more important than ever that we respond with compassion to those fleeing violence and other inhumane conditions, and our partners at RIM have all the tools you need to start vital conversations--and act-- within your congregation.