Presiding Bishop’s statement on refugees; congregational and individual response suggestions

Syrian refugees and migrants disembark the Eleftherios Venizelos passenger ship at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, September 14, 2015. Of the record total of 432,761 refugees and migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, an estimated 309,000 people had arrived by sea in Greece, the International Organization for Migration (IMO) said on Friday. About half of those crossing the Mediterranean are Syrians fleeing civil war, according to the United Nations refugee agency. REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis

Syrian refugees and migrants disembark the Eleftherios Venizelos passenger ship at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, September 14, 2015. Of the record total of 432,761 refugees and migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, an estimated 309,000 people had arrived by sea in Greece, the International Organization for Migration (IMO) said on Friday. About half of those crossing the Mediterranean are Syrians fleeing civil war, according to the United Nations refugee agency. REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued this statement on the current worldwide refugee crisis:

The children of Abraham have ever been reminded to care for the widow and orphan and the sojourner in their midst, who were the refugees and homeless of the time. Jesus charged his followers to care for the least of these and proclaim the near presence of the Reign of God – in other words, feed the hungry, water the thirsty, house the homeless, heal the sick, and liberate the captives. We cannot ignore the massive human suffering in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, nor in Asia and the Americas. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and our lives are bound up with theirs. The churchwide ministry of Episcopalians has included refugee resettlement since the refugee crisis of World War II.  It continues today through the leadership of Episcopal Migration Ministries, and I urge your involvement, action, and support. Read about their work below, and share these opportunities with friends and co-workers. You will discover anew the power of good news in the face of the world’s tragedies. 

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

_________________

Congregational and individual responses

The Syrian Civil War, now in its fourth year, has unleashed a humanitarian emergency in which severe war crimes — including indiscriminate massacres, persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender-based violence, and other humanitarian abuses — have become widespread.   According to a recent UNHCR report, more than 4 million people (through the end of 2014) have fled their homes to escape the war in Syria, adding to a worldwide total of nearly 20 million refugees, half of whom are children.  This is the largest and most widespread refugee crisis the world has known since World War II.

While record numbers of people are being forced to flee, powerful images of refugees fleeing Syria are compelling the world to action.

Learn
The media is publishing articles on a daily basis chronicling the most recent events and statistics. This crisis is complex geopolitically and historically (see here). The terminology  can also be confusing. Follow Episcopal Migration Ministries on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date.

Act
In 2015, the United States is welcoming 70,000 refugees to our country as new Americans.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, through Episcopal Migration Ministries, works in partnership with its affiliate network, along with dioceses, faith communities and volunteers, to welcome refugees from conflict zones across the globe. Your local resettlement agency is always preparing for arriving families and in need of financial support, resources and volunteers. Contact an Episcopal Migration Ministries affiliate near you.

Advocate
As a global leader in refugee resettlement, the US can and must do all that it can to welcome Syrians to the United States. Reach out to your Senators, Representatives, and the White House and ask them to support a robust refugee resettlement program and significant increase in Syrian resettlement.

The Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) has written a sample letter you may send to your members of Congress urging them to support increasing the number of refugees resettled by the US in 2016. You can find this letter on the EPPN action center here.

Join the Episcopal Public Policy Network to receive updates and policy action alerts to your inbox. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Awareness
Follow Episcopal Migration Ministries on Facebook and Twitter. Share news articles and story online and through your social media networks. Generate discussions in your community about the issues refugees are facing.

Join the #RefugeesWelcome global social media campaign urging governments to welcome refugees to their countries.

If you’re a teacher, use UNHCR’s toolkit  for teaching young people about migration and refugees.

If you are in a congregation, use the Prayer for Syria  as part of your Sunday or daily worship.

For additional information, contact Allison Duvall, Manager for Church Relations and Engagement for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, 212-716-6027aduvall@episcopalchurch.org.

Comments

  1. Sarah Elizabeth McCarren says:

    God bless you, ++ Katharine. I am PROUD to be an Episcopalian.

  2. Thank you for giving us your view on this situation, Bishop Katharine. I think the idea of other countries assimilating such large numbers of people is daunting for many. I was born and raised in Canada, and was 14 when WW2 ended. We had a large influx of immigrants come to Toronto, where I lived, mostly from Eastern Europe. I’d like people to know that these locations of masses of people can work! I went through high school with Kids from Eastern Europe and was enriched by knowing them. I saw the lifestyles of their families (hard, hard, working people) and can say that Canada was enriched by these new citizens. And by the pieces of their culture that came with them and melded into our culture. Thank you so much for your wonderful contribution to the Episcopal church. You gave so much, and are loved so much.

  3. Josephine DiCalogero says:

    I had asked what the Episcopal Church was doing about the refugees coming from Syria and other parts of the Middle East. Thank you, +Bishop Katherine for giving me an answer and a way that I can help.

  4. Michael Hartney says:

    “In 2015, the United States is welcoming 70,000 refugees to our country as new Americans.”
    That is the total number of refugees from all countries, worldwide. The USA has not yet agreed to accept anywhere near that many Syrian refugees.

  5. Michael Wood says:

    I am sorry to say but I disagree with our Presiding bishop and the Episcopal church. This country cannot even take care of our children, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless population and our veterans. And also heath insurance is still for the privilege. So I ask you Katherine why should we welcome these people when we cannot even help those Americans who desperately need our help.

  6. Diana D. Snow says:

    Dear Bishop Katharine, You have been and still are a superb leader for our Episcopal tradition. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet and talk with you at St. Paul’s in Daphne, AL when you dedicated our Life Center. I shall miss you when your term ends. In the meantime, thank you for continuing to lead us during this worldwide crisis of migration from Syria and other areas. My beyond EFM group has talked about what our responses could possibly be in this crisis, and the information in your article gives us resources with which to allign ourselves, and also to circulate in our congregation and community. I hope you know how much you are loved. Peace, Love, a d joy, D’ana Snow

  7. The Rev Donald Heacock says:

    I am strongly in favor of support first in a near country praying for return home. Then to the U. S. I have already e-mailed my Congressman to this effect. WE should look after “our own” in caring for our Christian brothers .

  8. David Sayers says:

    I strongly disagree with the Presiding Bishop’s viewpoint on taking in these people. We are already severely over burdened with illegals we can’t afford. More importantly, 70 percent of these “Syrian refugees” are young men ( UN statistics) and thus prime candidates to become Muslim terrorists. If you feel a need to do something for them, go over there yourself and tend to them.
    In regards to Joan Harrison’s letter of the 15th She is right that Canada was enriched by those immigrants just as the U.S. was.,but those were legal immigrants willing to assimilate themselves into a new culture and earn their citizenship. Unfortunately,this is a completely different situation today

    • Anthony Oberdorfer says:

      I agree completely with David Sayers. Leaders of the Episcopal Church are abusing their authority by making recommendations which will come back to haunt us. Among the thousands of self-proclaimed Muslim asylum seekers there must be many looking forward to committing acts of terrorism against those who are helping them. Is it absolutely impossible for us to learn from history? Should we have to look forward to brutal attacks against Christians in our own country after thousands of Christians have been slaughtered in the Middle East?

  9. And what are we also doing for the Valley fire refugees who lost everything.

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