“The world too often wants to close its borders, board up its front doors, and drown out the cries of the hungry and unsheltered,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori states in her 2015 World Refugee Day message. “We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and when we’re reflective, we remember that our own wellbeing depends on the safety of others.”
World Refugee Day is June 20, and in her message, the Presiding Bishop also heralds the work of Episcopal Migration Ministries for its resettlement efforts.
The following is Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s message.
World Refugee Day 2015
Human beings have been pushed out of their homes for millennia because of conflict, disaster, and oppression. Abraham and Sarah began as migrants and their descendants became refugees:
‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number…When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us…the Lord brought us out of Egypt… into this place and gave us this land… flowing with milk and honey.”
Their descendants became a blessing to Egypt, until they found themselves oppressed, and fled for their lives. As a child, Jesus and his family were refugees in the other direction, fleeing the violence of Roman rule in the land of Israel, and seeking shelter in Egypt.
Today there are more refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people than at any time since the end of World War II. More than 51 million people around the world live in mortal peril, fear, and uncertainty. As descendants of those wandering Arameans, whose ancestors fled slavery in Egypt, we are charged to care for the sojourner. Loving neighbors as ourselves is foundational to our lives of faith.
The world too often wants to close its borders, board up its front doors, and drown out the cries of the hungry and unsheltered. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and when we’re reflective, we remember that our own wellbeing depends on the safety of others. If some live in want and insecurity, violence usually results. We have only to look around us – and recognize that the violence comes as often from those who supposedly live in safety as from those who lack any resource or recourse. If we want peace, we must care for those who are fleeing violence – and pray for its perpetrators. We are made in the image of God, and we are created to live in peace.
As we mark World Refugee Day, consider how to become aware and involved:
- Learn about today’s large-scale migrations – from Africa across the Mediterranean; out of parts of Southeast Asia; out of the conflict-ridden Middle East; from Burundi into surrounding nations; the refugees from gang wars in Latin America; and in so many other places of strife and disaster and discrimination.
- Pray for those who live in refugee camps, detention centers, and immigration limbo.
- Look for ways to become involved personally and through your congregation.
- Join in the work of Episcopal Migration Ministries, celebrating 75 years of helping to resettle refugees in the United States. Contribute your finances, advocacy, and personal involvement. Last year Episcopal Migration Ministries resettled over 5000 people from 32 different nations.
- Become an advocate for migrants, who struggle to be heard, who are often unseen or ostracized. Join with others to advocate for immigration and asylum policies that seek justice for all sorts and conditions of displaced people.
- Work for peace in your own neighborhood and across the world – relationships that span differences here can undergird peacebuilding initiatives elsewhere.
Refugees and migrants become strong members of local communities, and a blessing to their neighbors. Will we be an equal blessing to them, will we seek their equal dignity, and answer their need with compassion?
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Episcopal Migration Ministries is the refugee resettlement program of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. Each year the Missionary Society works in partnership with its affiliate network, along with dioceses, faith communities and volunteers, to welcome refugees from conflict zones across the globe.
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
Episcopal Migration Ministries: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/episcopal-migration-ministries