Stand with us on June 21 for World Refugee Sunday!
On Saturday, June 20, the world will unite to celebrate World Refugee Day. On Sunday, June 21, St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church in Rome, Italy and its main outreach ministry, the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, will celebrate the occasion and the launch of its Welcome the Stranger Campaign by honoring refugees and migrants in the best way that a Christian community can: with a special Eucharist.
A special liturgy has been prepared for the occasion by St. Paul’s Within the Walls Rector, The Rev. Austin K. Rios and Young Adult Service Corps missionaries Jared Grant and Will Bryant, whose experiences at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center inspired them to prepare the resources for World Refugee Sunday. The liturgy is an adapted version of a Liturgy produced by General Theological Seminary.
The Welcome the Stranger Campaign
In 2015, The American Embassy to the Holy See partnered with the St. Paul’s and the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center on a new project that seeks to do more than just provide basic services for refugee guests in need. The Welcome the Stranger Campaign seeks to do more by trying to spread the idea that countries taking on immigrants and refugees should not treat such peoples with disdain and contempt, but instead welcome these strangers in our midst with love and acceptance. Fundamentally, the campaign seeks to change to society’s view towards refugees from a negative to one to a positive one.
How can we do this? What would it take to start a movement?
Over the course of the last six months faith leaders, volunteers, and refugees have submitted reflections on what it means to Welcome the Stranger, and in some cases, what it means to be Welcomed as a Stranger. The idea is that these influential and driven people would write reflections and share them among their circles in order that we might change the hearts and minds of people who would choose to reject refugees rather than accept them.
On Sunday, June 21, the campaign will launch with the release of our publication featuring some of the most profound reflections submitted for the Welcome the Stranger Campaign. We hope that this publication will spread across the world, and with it a growing sentiment that strangers in our midst should not be shunned but welcomed.
Resources for World Refugee Sunday
The Rev. Austin K. Rios and Young Adult Service Corps Missionaries Will Bryant and Jared Grant have prepared a host of resources available to the Anglican Community and other faith networks that would so wish to stand with us in honoring refugees on this special day.
The resources to celebrate Welcome the Stranger Sunday include:
- The World Refugee Day Liturgy and Bulletin Resource
- A Welcome the Stranger Reflection from a Refugee Guest of the JNRC, Rakin
- A Welcome the Stranger Reflection from The Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, The Rt. Rev. Pierre W. Whalon, D.D.
St. Paul’s invites you to print out these attached reflections so that you might share them with people in your congregation. Also available are Save the Date cards illustrated by a refugee guest of the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center that can be used to invite people in faith communities to come out and honor refugees on this special day. The invitations can be downloaded by clicking here and here.
We Are Not Alone
St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong, St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church in Rome, and The Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, North Carolina, have pledged to celebrate with this special liturgy on June 21. We invite all who would wish to honor our refugee brothers and sisters to stand together and celebrate their Eucharist by using this special service as well. Together, in unison, we can honor all refugees, and perhaps convince the world to start welcoming the strangers in our midst.