by Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director of Disciples Home Missions Refugee & Immigration Ministries, a partner of Week of Compassion
On December 4th, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution proclaiming June 20th of each year as World Refugee Day. Since then, hundreds of World Refugee Day (WRD) educational events, food fairs, religious celebrations, and cultural festivals have been held each year across the country to provide opportunities for neighbors to engage and build relationships with their local refugees and immigrants.
Perhaps this year, as we recognize the world now has OVER 20 MILLION refugees and 40 MILLION displaced persons - more than at any point since World War II - understanding and building friendships with refugees has never been so critical! As Disciples, through Refugee & Immigration Ministries, and in partnership with Week of Compassion, there are multiple ways to build our knowledge and connections around this year's World Refugee Day:
- Uplift Refugees in Worship on June 19th or on a nearby Sunday! Prayers, litanies, a children's sermon, and sermon starter notes linked to the very appropriate 1 Kings 19:1-15 lectionary text of Elijah fleeing to Mt. Horeb are available on our Refugee & Immigration Ministries website here.
- Plan or Join a Refugees Welcome Event any time this summer or fall, to link refugees with your family, or to connect multi-faith communities with refugees throughout your area. A full toolkit of faith and event resources, as well as a PowerPoint and recording about Refugees Welcome information can be found here. Please be sure to register or find an event on the map here, and send me pictures and reflections from these Refugee & Immigration Ministries events! One great story about a Refugees Welcome event with hundreds of faith participants was hosted at University Christian Church in Hyattsville, Maryland. Read the inspiring story here.
- Join with Other Faith Partners to Urge Support for Refugees, to offer protection, humanitarian assistance, and resettlement support. See the latest alert here, and CALL TODAY to encourage positive understanding.
- Serve as a "Refugee Welcome Team" or offer Refugee Hospitality Kits in your area! As the U.S. attempts to meet its commitment to resettle 85,000 total refugees (including 10,000 Syrians), churches are needed more than ever in the coming months! See more information about the kits, and locations of our partner CWS offices here. And, if your church is not nearby a CWS refugee office, contact me to learn how you can connect in other ways to help refugees in your area!
- Share stories of refugees, and your support for refugees, with your friends, and on social media! Use the social media images at the top of the page on your Facebook or Twitter, and follow #RefugeesWelcome and refugeesarewelcome.org for ongoing stories of refugees. Also, go to refugeeday.org and #WithRefugees for additional U.S. and global refugee stories, and for their just-released 2016 World Refugee Day social media kit.
Share these Week of Compassion videos to build awareness that every 5 seconds, someone in the world is displaced and flees-and to hear stories of refugee struggles. Watch "Every 5 Seconds" and "This is My Story."
Our Global Responses Since June 1st, 2016
Where you built relationships with struggling neighbors