Limited Edition Bishops’ Appeal 2019 Calendars

Now Available in All Dioceses

Members of the Church of Ireland can support communities all over the world this Christmas by purchasing a Bishops’ Appeal calendar.  For just €10/£10, the calendar will raise funds to make a difference on the ground throughout 2019.  It commemorates the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland – the 150th anniversary of which starts next year – and each month provides a reflection from its bishops on issues or projects that have been supported by Bishops’ Appeal over the years.

The Rt Revd Patrick Rooke, Chair of the Bishops’ Appeal Advisory Committee, said: ‘2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland. Throughout those 150 years, this Church has worked to support the disadvantaged in some of the poorest parts of the world. The calendar is both a celebration of that partnership but also a reminder of how life is for so many. Those who purchase a calendar will be supporting this ongoing work as we seek to bring relief to disaster situations as well as supporting health, education and rural development projects.’

 

Calendars can be purchased in the following ways:

  1. Online at https://store.ireland.anglican.org/donations/the-bishops-appeal and then by choosing the most convenient collection point or adding €4/£4 for postage to your preferred address.  Please email bishopsappeal@ireland.anglican.org with delivery instructions.
  2. By cheque made payable to Bishops’ Appeal and sent to Church of Ireland House, Church Avenue, Rathmines, Dublin 6.  Please enclose a note that it is for purchase of a calendar.
  3. Exact payment on collection except where otherwise stated – from selected collection points only (listed below)

 

Collection points

  • Lydia Monds, Church of Ireland House, Church Avenue, Rathmines, Dublin 6 – 01 4125 610 (bishopsappeal@ireland.anglican.org)
  • Armagh: The Revd Elizabeth Stevenson, Bishops’ Appeal representative – 028 3885 1503.
  • Cashel, Ferns and Ossory: Denise Hughes, Diocesan Office, The Palace Coach House, Church Lane, Kilkenny.
  • Clogher: Diocesan Office, Hall’s Lane, Enniskillen.
  • Connor: Audra Irvine, Diocesan Office, 61-67 Donegall Street, Belfast (Collection only.  Please pay online or send a cheque to Bishops’ Appeal to cover the cost of your calendar).
  • Cork, Cloyne and Ross: Billy Skuse, Diocesan Office, St Nicholas’ House, 14 Cove Street, Cork, or Andrew Coleman, Bishops’ Appeal representative (acoleman@christian-aid.org).
  • Derry and Raphoe: Diocesan Office, London Street, Londonderry.
  • Down and Dromore: Tracey Taggart, Diocesan Office, 61-67 Donegall Street, Belfast (Collection only.  Please pay online or send a cheque to Bishops’ Appeal to cover the cost of your calendar).
  • Dublin and Glendalough: Sylvia Heggie, Diocesan Office, Church of Ireland House, Church Avenue, Rathmines, Dublin 6.
  • Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh: Sarah Taylor, Diocesan Office, 20A Market Street, Cootehill, Co. Cavan.
  • Limerick and Killaloe: Available from St Mary’s Cathedral, Bridge Street, Limerick.
  • Meath and Kildare: Karen Seaman, Diocesan Office, Moyglare, Maynooth, Co. Kildare.
  • Tuam, Killala and Achonry: Canon Jennifer McWhirter, Bishops’ Appeal representative – 096 60829.

Indonesian Earthquake and Tsunami Response

People survey damage outside the shopping mall following earthquakes and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. Rescuers try to reach trapped victims in collapsed buildings after hundreds of people are confirmed dead in a tsunami that hit two central Indonesian cities, sweeping away buildings with massive waves. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

A 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the island of Sulawesi on Friday morning, causing a tsunami and around 170 aftershocks. It is the most devastating earthquake to hit Indonesia since 2004.
The area devastated by the disaster is bigger than originally thought. The tsunami wave was as high as six metres in some places.
The death toll is currently at 832 and expected to rise sharply. 821 of the deaths occurred in the city of Palu. There are still only 11 casualties recorded in the city of Donggala, one of the worst hit areas
Bodies are now being buried in mass graves once they have been identified.
The city of Palu has been devastated. There is no electricity and drinking water is in short supply after the pipes were damaged. Fuel is also running low.
Rescue operations are hindered by the lack of heavy equipment needed to shift the rubble. Most search and rescue of victims is being done by hand.

Bishops’ Appeal is acting as a conduit for funds which they will direct to agencies to aid emergency relief efforts on the ground.

However, we would urge parishes and individuals not to divert Harvest giving as there are many communities awaiting funding for life saving projects across the globe.  For example, refugee training and trauma support centres in Lebanon and Iraq and access to safe water for schools and communities in Uganda.

All information on giving can be found at the ‘Give’ section of this website.

Reading the Bible Missionally – Sermon Outline & Powerpoint

Who is my Neighbour?
Reading the Bible “missionally” in light of the Global Refugee Crisis
By Charlotte Olhausen

– “30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30:31)

● Aim of talk: In light of the refugee crisis, to stand in solidarity with people seeking refuge across the world through engagement with the biblical scripture, through prayer and through action. This talk aims to teach us why it is of such importance that Christians engage with the migrant crisis.

What you will need for the talk:
● A Bible
● Powerpoint with pictures and the readings (optional)
● 6 people to do the readings – perhaps three children and three adults/teenagers.
● A stand up flip sheet chart and two coloured pens to outline Tearfund’s theory of poverty (optional)
● Tearfund’s theory of poverty (optional) http://tilz.tearfund.org/en/themes/church/tearfunds_faith-based_approach/)

Opening Activity:
What is poverty?
● When you hear the word poverty, what sort of words spring to mind? People can give their responses to be put up on the flipchart – in our experience these are often a mixture of material and physical things with perhaps one or two non-physical things. Is poverty just about the amount of ‘stuff’ we possess?
● The World Bank did a study some years ago called Voices of the Poor, interviewing many living in poverty according to the World Bank criteria about what poverty meant for them. Their answers used words like isolated, alone, helpless, no voice, full of fear, useless, worthless, rubbish, ashamed.
● These are words that describe feelings and relationships – there is something about poverty that is grounded in relationships that are currently unhealthy, unequal and unjust – and so poverty alleviation needs to look at restoring of relationships in a holistic way, with God, self, others and the environment. When we speak about this restoration of relationships we are referring to all people – rich, poor and in-between. All of our lifestyles and choices perpetuate the current system that keeps the majority of the world poor. All of us need to be reconnected to God and to each other.

Introduction:

As Christians, we turn to the biblical text for wisdom and guidance during a time of crisis e.g. during a time of illness, when we need encouragement to help another etc. So, why wouldn’t we do the same in light of the global refugee crisis?
Much of Jesus’ ministry is aimed at the “other” or the most vulnerable members of society…coupled with our own Christian story of exile and the fact that Jesus himself was a refugee…makes for a pretty solid reason to really utilise the scripture as a tool to engage with the migrant crisis, right?

A view of Za’atari refugee camp

Statistics:

● The migrant crisis is a global issue with people currently fleeing conflict in countries such as Myanmar, Syria, Iraq, Iran, South Sudan and Yemen. The wars in Syria and Iraq alone have caused millions to flee their homes to escape violence, poverty and persecution.
● UN statistic: 12.3 million people have fled their homes since fighting broke out in Syria in 2011. 6.6 million are internally displaced with up to 13.5 million people within Syria needing humanitarian assistance.
● How do you feel after hearing these statistics – what is your initial response? Each number that makes up a statistic is a person, infinitely loved by the Almighty God.

1. Our Christian faith is built upon the story of the people fleeing from Egypt.

-Check out this short video for an overview of the Exodus story

Reader: Deuteronomy 26:7-9 “7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

This is also the Story of God’s people – displacement and vulnerability are part of the Church’s DNA and Church’s story e.g. exile of the early Church. There are many parallels to be drawn between the Exodus story of Moses leading God’s people out of Egypt and the refugees fleeing conflict and insecurity today.

Not only do I have the right to a flourishing life, everyone does. We should all experience this quality of life. Flourishing is not about accumulating wealth and keeping up with the Jones’. It is about having Enough and living a life of contentment with Enough. Now is the time we need to take up the call to better our relationships with those suffering across the globe so that they may experience a better quality of life. – For Jesus came that we may have this sort of life and have it “to the full” (John 10:10).

2. The Parable of the Good Samaritan/love of neighbour/Jesus identification with human suffering
● In society there tends to be a suspicion/fear surrounding those from distant cultures, or the “other”, as we often perceive them to be.

Reader: Deuteronomy 1:16 – 16 And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. 17 Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.”

● What does this passage tell us? It tells us two things: firstly, it is not our place to judge others – ultimately this is God’s job. Secondly, although it is a natural part of our being human to notice the differences between ourselves and others, we should always be willing to challenge any preconceptions and prejudices that can arise from this initial ‘noticing’ so that it does not build barriers in our hearts and in our interactions with others.
● What else does the Bible say about how we should respond to the stranger/the other/the foreigner? Take the parable of the Good Samaritan…

Reader: Luke 10:25-37 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

● In fact, throughout the Bible we see that Jesus’ ministry focuses on the love of the poor and vulnerable, namely the foreigner, the widow and the child.
● Martin Luther King Junior said ‘On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway.’ So as we focus on those who are vulnerable, we don’t just look to meet their immediate need, but we look to why they are vulnerable and seek to change the root causes and not just the symptoms of the problem.

GUIDAN IDER VILLAGE, NEAR KONNI, NIGER, 27TH JULY 2010: Feeding centre started in 2004 by Christian Aid partner HEKS in partnership with GADRA. Staff cook vitamin-enriched formula for both babies and mothers.
Very poor rains in 2009 and late rains this season has led to severe food insecurity in many areas of Niger. Since last September food prices have risen by approximately 25%. Other factors affecting family’s ability to feed themselves and their livestock include worsening wind and soil erosion, a staggering 3% population growth, increasing mortality rates and rising temperatures.
Even if the rains now falling improve, the harvest itself is predicted to yield only 50% of what would be expected in a year of good rainfall.
Photo by Mike Goldwater / Christian Aid

Reader: Matthew 25: 34-39: 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

● In the Bible there are constant reminders of God’s presence with us in our suffering. How? It is through his spirit that God is here with us. It is also through his spirit that we are convicted to stand with those suffering. By His Spirit we draw upon God’s infinite reserves of compassion and we allow them to flow through us and through our Christian witness.
● If we do not respond to the suffering of others, this inaction in turn, denies our love for God.

3. Jesus as a Refugee Child

Reader: Matthew 2:13-14: 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,

● Jesus can identify with refugees because he was a refugee himself. Jesus acts as a model of hope in the suffering of the refugees. If we are willing to accept Jesus the refugee into our lives, then surely this same acceptance applies to those fleeing in need of our help.
● This involves the reforming of the language we associate to refugees, the way we view them with our eyes and ultimately how we choose to respond to them. By doing this we can reverse the effects of self-absorption or self-prioritising as we are called as the people of God to stand in solidarity with others.

Looking forward:

By looking at the scripture through a missional lens we can see that it is very much part of our calling as Christians to help and engage with the “other”, the foreigner, the poor. As a Church community, we must not turn a blind eye to this. In doing so, we are blessed.

● Give: This can be done by donating to the cause or it can involve giving your time. Bishops’ Appeal is providing grants for people who wish to gain a qualification in TEFL and use this skill to volunteer with migrants and refugees. For more information email: bishopsappeal@ireland.anglican.org

● Act: Add your name to the Register of Pledges run by the Irish Red Cross to join in providing integrated support to refugees and migrants. Once registered, you can pledge offers of accommodation, goods and services http://registerofpledges.redcross.ie/#/ Speak up for those who are vulnerable and scapegoated. Be a voice that offers an alternative way of seeing the world than the dividing and fearmongering view of ‘us and them’.

● Pray: a major way we can help is through prayer. Especially when we come together

● Some links to give you more information on the migrant crisis and ways to get involved:
– https://www.redcross.ie/
– http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Irish_Refugee_Protection_Programme_(IRPP)
– http://www.tearfund.ie/get_involved/churches/

Powerpoint Slides for Readings: Reading the Bible _missionally_ Talk

Rev William Steacy Addresses Meath & Kildare Diocesan Synod

Report to Diocesan Synod 7th October 2017
(Rev William Steacy, Bishops Appeal Representative, Meath & Kildare Diocese)

Bishop Pat, and members of Synod, I want to speak to you briefly about Bishop’s Appeal.

Bishops’ Appeal was originally set up to contribute to the relief of suffering and poverty overseas.
It is like an intermediary;
it receives money from parishes and dioceses and distributes it via charitable organisations to those in need.

It channels funds towards humanitarian emergencies like for example the current Rohingya Muslem refugee crises in Bangladesh.

Our Diocese has been faithful in contributing to various appeals over recent years,
we have given to:
– the earthquake disaster in Nepal,
– the East African Famine Crises and
– the Syrian Refugee Crises.

Bishops’ Appeal also supports niche projects in areas such as
education, health and rural development.
A few years ago we as a diocese supported the
the Christian Aid Agogo Dairy appeal in Haiti.

But I suppose the one project that has been most prominent in recent years has been the Good for the Sole Project which started in February 2015.

I have been part of the working group which planned and steered this project.
It has been an amazing journey. Right from the start this project took off and caught the imagination of many people.

The idea of giving €5 for two pairs of protective sandals to help a Leprosy sufferer in India was easy for people to grasp.
Many Parishes, schools and individuals got involved and €22,630 was raised by the end of 2015.
The target of 10,000 sandals (or €25,000) was reached by Easter 2016 with a few thousand Euro to spare.
This was a wonderful achievement and we celebrated it in Trim Cathedral in April 2016.

We then moved on to Phase 2 where we were asking people to sponsor corrective surgeries at €50 per operation.


Dr Jerry Joshua, who was working with the leprosy mission in India came over in June last year to launch Phase 2 in Kildare Cathedral. He spoke about the process of taking fat tissue from one part of the body and relocating it to where it was needed around the foot.

By the end of last year €30,720 was raised – this was the equivalent of sponsoring 614 surgeries.
After Easter this year, a team of 12 people from the diocese went out to India to see where the money was being used (no doubt some of you have already heard reports of their experiences).
By the end of June, the Diocese had handed over an extra €10,661 to Bishops’ Appeal giving a grand total of the sponsorship of 827 operations.

We have been told that the Leprosy Mission has now enough funding to carry out foot surgeries in their hospitals in India for the next 2 ½ years that’s up to 2020. So we are delighted.

 

The Good for the Sole project has been a great success so we say a big thank you to all those parishes, schools and individuals that got involved.
We would especially want to thank Rhonda Willoughby for all the work she did in producing the Food for the Sole Cook books, which obviously raised a lot of money for the project.

I estimate that from February 2015 to June 2017 the diocese has raised over €66,000 for the Good for the Sole project.

Why was this project so successful –
why did people respond to it so enthusiastically and give so generously?

I came across a number of points in the Church of Ireland Generous Giving Programme literature recently, and it struck a cord with me. It said and I quote:

People give generously when they understand that giving is rooted in discipleship and worship.
They give generously when they clearly know what their money is being used for.
And they give generously when they can see that it is making a difference.

So thank you on behalf of Bishops’ Appeal for all your generosity.
Thank you

William Steacy

Harvest Appeal

Click here for Appeal Letter: +Patrick Rooke Bishops Appeal Harvest Letter

All Age Sermon Outline: Back to School Time

The Extraordinary Life of a Pencil:

Exploring our interconnected world, our potential in the hands of God and literacy projects supported through Bishops Appeal, this sermon outline has a lot to offer!
Originally for use in conjunction with the Cashel, Ferns and Ossory Diocesan Link Projects which focus on literacy in Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, it can also be used to explore a variety of themes and biblical principles by any church or group.

For the Sermon Outline click here: The Extraordinary Life of a Pencil

For the Powerpoint click here: The Extraordinary Life of a Pencil

Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 5

Focus on Cyprus

A cookery class: ten nationalities were represented and they were taught a traditional Egyptian dish.

This week, during World Refugee Week, the Anglican Alliance is showcasing examples where Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world are responding to refugees with practical assistance, welcoming refugees in to their communities and discovering mutual enrichment through this engagement.

Food: The International Language

Last month in Cyprus a new initiative began at St Barnabas Church, Limassol within the Diocese of Cyprus & the Gulf to help, enable and encourage migrants and refugees living in the area to integrate more effectively, whilst making them feel valued and welcomed. The initiative was thought up by Revd Christine Goldsmith and Claire Loizides, an ecumenical partner who heads up the St Catherine’s Catholic Agapi migrant centre in Limassol. The initiative involves migrants, refugees, members of St Barnabas congregation and St Catherine’s Catholic church coming together to teach each other how to cook each other’s national dishes. Funding has been granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s fund to enable this idea to become a reality.

The first session involved three Egyptian ladies teaching others gathered how to make one of their traditional dishes. Seventeen ladies joined in from 10 different nationalities including Syrian, Afghani, Egyptian, Filipino, Columbian, Italian, and not forgetting English and Welsh!

Refugees from across Cyprus from Pafos, Limassol and Kofinou camp joined in the fun. Despite the language barriers everyone enjoyed themselves and were able to communicate through the food as well as the laughter and smiles.

One member of St Barnabas Church who joined in the sessions said, “It has been a wonderful fun filled morning and a great pleasure to spend time with these special ladies, as well as tasting such amazing food.”

It is hoped these classes will continue and grow so that many more may join over the coming months.

Anglicans from the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf have been supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Cyprus for a number of years in practical and imaginative ways within the local context in Cyprus. Volunteers from across Cyprus have given time and resources to work as part of the team of volunteers at Kofinou refugee camp, along with volunteers from other organisations. Together they have established a volunteers distribution centre where donations can be organised and processed and so that welcome packs and toiletries, clothing, and items for children, along with other necessary items, can be distributed to those in need.

Other ways in which the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf has responded is to distribute Christmas shoeboxes with presents to the camp residents, and to collect donations of books in Arabic and Farsi to provide books for children to receive education in their own language and to give alternative activities for adult readers

Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 4

Focus on Canterbury

The local community joined together for a time of friendship, fun and music. © Canterbury Diocese.

This week, during World Refugee Week, the Anglican Alliance is showcasing examples where Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world are responding to refugees with practical assistance, welcoming refugees in to their communities and discovering mutual enrichment through this engagement.

In the Diocese of Canterbury in the UK, the church has looked to engage local schools, to equip local professionals and supporters to welcome refugees in the Kent area, and to organise events to bring the local community together in its diversity. The response in Canterbury shows the creative ways in which the local church is responding to refugees in its own context, building partnerships with others and making use of their own local resources.

The Kent Schools of Sanctuary Project has launched to create friendly and welcoming spaces for children to ask questions about migration, and to learn how to be welcoming to everyone. The project has created a webpage of resources to enable teachers to include the topic of asylum and refuge in their lesson plans.

In November 2016 Christian charities in Kent took innovative steps to ensure professionals and supporters in the area are equipped to welcome refugees to the county, particularly unaccompanied children fleeing violence, persecution or conflict.

In a partnership programme named Hat·tê·ḇāh, Christian charities The Children’s Society, Mothers’ Union and Home for Good are partnering together with the Diocese of Canterbury to offer training. This training will ensure the strengths and expertise of each organisation can be used by professionals and volunteers who may come into contact with young refugees.

The Hebrew phrase hat·tê·ḇāh is used in two contexts in the Old Testament, once to describe Noah’s ark, and once for the basket used by Miriam to keep Moses safe in the River Nile. This serves as an appropriate illustration for the training that will be given by frontline workers from The Children’s Society’s refugee and migrant services. It will equip participants to understand and respond to the issues faced by refugee children and improve understanding of their rights and safeguarding needs.

Speaking ahead of the event, Rt. Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, said: `I’m delighted to support this collaborative initiative. The role of the Church in being an advocate for the lonely, oppressed and the refugee has become more imperative. In a nation facing cut backs in budgets for local authorities, we need to be creative in how we support young refugees who are arriving as well as supporting those who already live in our communities and face significant deprivation. We want to be equipped to offer “hat·tê·ḇāh”, places of safety and refuge for as long as refugee children and young people need them.’

The training was offered to people who may come across refugees in their work, or who might be influencers of others: clergy, family or youth workers, chaplains and pastoral assistants, and professionals within church communities who work closely with vulnerable children: teachers, lawyers and medical professionals. The response to the training had been overwhelming, with over 70 people signed up.

This week the Diocese of Canterbury has taken part in two national initiatives aimed at bringing people together – The Great Get Together weekend (17 to 18 June) and Refugee Week (19 to 23 June) – which are being marked locally by churches and communities across East Kent in June.

The Great Get Together is the idea of the family of the murdered UK MP Jo Cox, and was inspired by her belief that ‘there is more that unites us than divides us.’ In that spirit, the Diocese of Canterbury, in collaboration with Together Canterbury, Migrant Help UK and Canterbury Cathedral, organised a community picnic which took place on Sunday 18 June in Canterbury.

As part of Refugee Week, the Diocese is hosting a film screening of Evaporating Borders – an award-winning documentary about the life of refugees in camps in Lesbos. The film looks at what it means to be displaced, and examines the idea of belonging and notions of diaspora, exile, and migration. An expert panel discussion will follow the film screening discussing the topic of life for refugees in Kent after resettlement.

Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 3

Focus on Jordan

A girl with intellectual disabilities shows a volunteer the calendar they have made.

 

In Jordan the local church is working to respond to the practical needs of refugees with disabilities living in the refugee camps.

A speech therapy session at the centre. © Anglican Alliance

 

The Holy Land Institute for Deaf and Deaf-blind Children has been working with children with disabilities in Jordan for over 50 years after its foundation by the Episcopal Church in Jordan.

The Holy Land Institute has been an “early responder” in Za’atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan, where 80,000 refugees now live, having been involved with assisting refugees with disabilities and their families since the formation of the camp in 2012.

The wider context in Jordan, as of April 2017, is that 733,210 refugees have been registered in Jordan with UNHCR, with the large majority arriving from Syria (657,621 refugees) and the next largest group from Iraq (62,445 refugees). UNHCR data places Jordan as hosting the second largest number of refugees globally, relative to the size of its population, with 89 refugees for every 1000 inhabitants.

The Holy Land Institute, together with four other organisations making up the Disability Network, runs a disability centre in the camp to provide hearing tests, hearing aids, eye tests and glasses for refugees. The organisations in the network complement each other to provide assistance to cover a range of impairments that cause visual, hearing, physical/mobility and intellectual disabilities, as well as neurological and medical issues.

Since work commenced at the centre more than 3,000 children have received help, together with young and elderly people with hearing, visual or mental disabilities. Each day, 75 children come into the centre to receive help with hearing devices, therapy, education and even just support and friendship from Holy Land Institute staff and the centre’s 14 volunteers.  Specialist staff from the network of Jordanian disability-specific organisations regularly visit the camp.

Isobel Owen, Programme Officer at the Anglican Alliance, and Janice Proud, its Relief Manager, visited the centre in Za’atari refugee camp in April 2017.

Reflecting on the experience, Isobel said: “Within a context of great need, the Holy Land Institute and the Network have responded to the most vulnerable, regardless of faith or nationality, and have brought their expertise and skills in to close a gap in service provision in the camp.”

 

 

 

Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 2

The blog below is a personal reflection on World Refugee Week by Revd Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance.

A view of Za’atari refugee camp

Last year I met ‘Binyamin’, a young refugee from Afghanistan, who had fled to Europe when he was just 15. He then spent the next eight years being bounced from one country to another, his asylum applications repeatedly rejected.

It was when he finally he visited a church-based refugee centre in Italy that he was connected with a proper asylum lawyer and was given official status in just two weeks. At last he could settle and begin his life again.

‘Binyamin’ is a talented young man bringing so much to his host community. After his travels he already speaks four European languages as well as his mother tongue. He will be a gift to others wherever he stays.

I thought of ‘Binyamin’ last week during World Refugee Day last week. I thought of the many refugees I have met who have enriched my life with their stories and commitment to making a good future.

Last week we also marked St Alban’s Day. Alban lived in third century Roman Britain. His story tells how one day he gave shelter to a stranger fleeing from persecution – a Christian priest known as Amphibalus. Alban was so touched by the priest’s faith and courage that he asked to learn more about Christianity, at that time still a forbidden religion in Britain. And so Alban became a Christian.

Soon after guards came to arrest Amphibalus. Alban, inspired by his new faith, decided to change clothes with Amphibalus, allowing him to escape. When Alban was brought before the authorities, he refused to worship the Roman gods. He was then martyred. Amphibalus was also arrested and killed.

I find many things very moving in St Alban’s story: that he welcomed a stranger, and in that welcome he encountered Christ in and through his guest. And finally, that he chose to walk in the other’s shoes – to experience the other’s life – literally wearing the shoes and clothes of his guest and taking his martyrdom.

At the Anglican Alliance we are privileged to accompany a number of churches around the Communion who welcome the stranger – reaching out to refugees in their midst, people who have fled danger, conflict and persecution. And in each refugee is a person bringing gifts and vision for life, making a contribution to their new communities.

The cathedral in Cairo Egypt has hundreds of people coming each day, receiving health care, comfort, food and advice. Refugee doctors from South Sudan are part of their health care team. In Canterbury England, the churches support initiatives for unaccompanied refugee children, helping with their resettling in local schools. In the US, Episcopal Migration Ministries has served to resettle thousands of refugees in local communities over many decades. In Amman Jordan, the churches support refugees from Iraq and Syria, running a programme for people with disabilities in the camps and providing comfort and support to Iraqi Christian refugees living in the community. In Rome Italy, a church uses its crypt as a welcome centre for refugees. In Uganda, the churches bring practical and spiritual support to refugees from South Sudan. In Malaysia the churches offer language lessons to refugees.

The examples around the Communion are too numerous to list. Yet when I talk with the local churches I often hear echoes of St Alban’s story: how the churches instinctively reach out to welcome the vulnerable stranger; how in that encounter they meet Christ through and in the stranger, and how in that experience they too are transformed, learning to walk in the shoes of the other and to be blessed by the gifts that the other brings.

“For when I was a stranger you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35)

Revd Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director, Anglican Alliance