From observing Refugee Sunday like Trinity Lutheran Church (Steelton) did, to packing refugee welcome baskets like Communities of Hope (Harrisburg) is doing, we can all find ways to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable and marginalized.
Is your congregation doing something to address the refugee situation? Please let us know so that we can the story. There are many ways to help. Scroll down this page for ideas.
To accompany his designation, Bishop Dunlop released a Statement on Terrorism and the Syrian Refugee Crisis, urging Lower Susquehanna Lutherans prayerfully to ponder, “Who is my neighbor” in light of the horrific events of the last few months.
“We are called to be neighbor to people in need, especially people who are victims and are in desperate circumstances,” Bishop Dunlop said in his statement. Click here to read Bishop Dunlop’s statement.
Click here for Bible study and preaching guides for Refugee Sunday (using Lectionary A’s text, Matthew 2:13-23).
Meanwhile, here are some other resources and ideas for how your congregation can respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton released a statement on November 18, 2015, encouraging the support of refugee resettlement. Click here to read the statement.
- Invite a speaker to your congregation to talk about refugees or the Syrian crisis.
- Use social media to get the word out.
- Visit the website of LCFS (Lutheran Children and Family Service). LCFS currently resettles refugees through their office in Lancaster. The staff at LCFS can provide your congregation or organization with tangible ways to become involved locally through co-sponsoring a family or volunteering to help a new refugee family, with providing welcome boxes and donations, and through fostering an unaccompanied refugee minor.
- Invite youth ministry and young adult leaders to organize around the LIRS petition and create their own activities for Refugee Sunday. Consider playing the LIRS Refugee Simulation Game.
- Print a copy of the petition from the LIRS website and sign it at church or whenever groups gather in your building.
- Include an article in your newsletter, blog, or website.
- Place a LIRS banner and link on your church website’s homepage to “Help Syrian Refugees.”
- Download or order your Refugee Sunday resource kit from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), containing sermon notes, a litany, bulletin inserts, videos, volunteer information, and prayers. To receive a hard copy of the kit in the mail, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. LIRS is also available to support local events in other ways. If you would like to request an LIRS speaker for your Refugee Sunday event, or need help planning your event please email email@example.com or call LIRS toll free at: 844-230-2736.
- Click here to be redirected to Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota and their 7-week small group “My Neighbor Is Muslim” study. With contributions from Luther College Professor Todd Green and commentary from faculty at Luther Seminary, LIRS, and LSS staff, this resource is intended to open doors, minds, and hearts and dispel stereotypes and myths about Muslim neighbors.
- Organize a special offering for ELCA Disaster Response, LIRS, or the Lutheran Church in Hungary (companion to the Northeastern Iowa Synod). Send your offering through our LSS Treasurer’s Office to ensure timely and accurate distribution and credit.
- Click here for bulletin inserts and more information from ELCA Disaster Response.
- Click here for information about what the Lutheran Church in Hungary is doing in response to the refugee crisis. Click here for a letter from ELCH Bishop Tamás Fabiny.
- Remember refugees, aid workers, and churches like the ELCH in your personal and community prayers.
- Click here for a short article “4 Things You Should Know About Refugees” from Live58.
Lower Susquehanna: Long a Place of Sanctuary
Our area has offered sanctuary and been home to refugees in the past. In 1975, refugees arrived in our synod after the fall of Saigon and were housed at Ft. Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County. Many area Lutherans were involved in the resettlement effort. A 40-year reunion was held in 2015 at the Gap. Click here to learn more. (Area residents welcome refugees following the fall of Saigon. Allied Pix archive at the Historical Society of Dauphin County)
Click here for a blog post entitled “A Blue Dustpan” by The Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann, who teaches homiletics and serves in the Advancement Office at Gettysburg Seminary. In this short reflection, Dr. Zimmann reflects on a grace-filled encounter with her neighbor, a refugee from Myanmar.
Main Photo: UKAid, Creative Commons