Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, I would like to share with you the letter we received recently from Bishop Justin about the refugee crisis unfolding in Europe, and our response:
As the reality of the world’s refugee crisis has been brought into clear focus in recent days, we have all been moved with compassion for those whose situation is so desperate that they are prepared to give up all that they know and to risk their lives to find safety in a foreign land. As governments struggle to deal with the enormity of the wave of humanity fleeing war and persecution it’s hard for us to know how to respond meaning-fully. As individuals it’s difficult to see what difference we can make, however, as family, I believe we have the opportunity to make a response.
I’m writing to you to invite you as a congregation, a parish and a diocese to join together to offer to share a portion of the abundance that we enjoy with those people on the road and sea seeking a taste of the safety that we enjoy in our land. What I’m challenging us to consider is making a collective undertaking to provide the support necessary to settle one refugee family in each of our parishes. Each of us might be able to provide support in the form of accommodation, money or practical support and our individual contribution might not seem like much but acting together we can achieve enough to make a real difference to real lives.
Please prayerfully consider this challenge. Please tell the leadership of your parish of your support for such an undertaking. It’s my hope that I will hear over the next 24 hours from each parish about the commitments you are in a position to make. I know that your prayers will be joined with mine as we ask for God’s mercy to be known in the lives of the world’s refugees.
After feedback from our congregations last Sunday and several emails sent to me from individuals and families I responded to Bishop Justin on Monday as follows:
Dear Bishop Justin
Our parishioners were generally positive and prepared to pick up the challenge. We would want to work together with others in the cluster/ Archdeaconry and hope that this offer to help with the refugee crisis might be something other Diocese would join us in. There was concern that families should be grouped in proximity to each other rather than each family in isolation in parishes.
We look forward to hearing more
Many Blessings, May
Bishop Justin’s Reply to Parishes:
I’m incredibly proud of the size and the positivity of the response to my challenge to us yesterday. On this basis, I was able to say to the media today that we are prepared to contribute meaningfully. My press release is attached for your information. The people of New Zealand have sent a clear message to our government that we are not prepared to remain passive in the face of human tragedy.
Archbishop Philip and Cardinal John Dew held a press conference this morning and they were able to say with confidence that with the support of even half the Anglican and Catholic parishes in New Zealand we can support 300 refugee families. The response of Wellington Diocese was a key reason for their confidence.
This Stuff article includes excerpts from the press conference
What next for our response? We will be working hard over the coming weeks to provide parishes with resources to continue this important work. Processing of refugees by the UN takes time so it will be a while before there is an on the ground need that the government may ask us to help with. In the mean time we will be talking to the right agencies to ensure that any contribution is appropriate and effective. Above all, lets continue to pray.
Thank you again.
Thank you all for your compassion and support.