Celebrate World Refugee Day (June 20th) & Refugee Welcome Sunday!!

Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries invites Disciples from around the country to honor refugees and asylum seekers near to World Refugee Day, June 20th.  We also encourage congregations to lift up refugees in worship, by sponsoring a “Refugee Welcome Sunday” close to June 20–or anytime that is good for your congregation!  Multiple resources are available to assist congregations to incorporate refugee themes in their worship services, take actions to support refugees, build community partnerships with refugees, and celebrate ways of engaging with refugees in resettlement and other forms of welcome in their communities!

This year, the UNHCR notes that there is an unprecedented 100 million persons displaced worldwide.  This includes more refugees than ever before–26.6 million refugees–along with 50.9 million internally displaced persons, 4.4 million asylum seekers, and 4.1 displaced Venezuelans.  For World Refugee Day 2022, the UNHCR urges our communities to honor how every person has the right to seek safetywhoever they are, wherever they come from, and whenever they are forced to flee.

For over four decades, faith communities–including thousands of Disciples–have demonstrated the full-hearted, every community support for refugees that our faith calls us to demonstrate!  Just this year, faith and community partners have stepped up with renewed energy to offer warm welcome for over 76,000 Afghans evacuated after the Taliban’s takeover last August under Operation Allies Welcome, and to assist tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing for safety to the US–entering primarily through temporary protections known as “Humanitarian Parole” in the nation’s “Uniting for Ukraine” efforts. 

Yet, after years of decimation, so many other challenges remain to restore the US refugee program. In mid-November of 2021, the US halted resettlement of refugees, except for Afghans and certain emergency cases, for two months. This followed a year when the US admitted and processed only 11,411 refugees in fiscal year 2021, far below the refugee cap of 62,500 that President Joe Biden set.  And, though the administration set a refugee admissions goal number of 125,000 for fiscal year 2022, actual resettlement arrivals have been less than 8,800 refugees in the first half of the current fiscal year.

We hope you’ll use the resources below, over this World Refugee Day and beyond, to continue to restore and strengthen refugee resettlement in the United States, as faith partners are needed more than ever to answer God’s call to “welcome the sojourner” (Dt. 10:19) who may be “angels unawares.” (Heb. 13:2)

Below are some key resources to assist you and your congregation:

Be sure to SIGN UP to let us know and promote how you’ll be honoring refugees and immigrants in your church and community!!

June is an especially appropriate time to lift up refugee and immigrant contributions and challenges, since June 20th is World Refugee Day.  

In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly established that “Refugee Day” would be celebrated each year on June 20th, and encourage local communities to select time and ways near this date to honor the strengths and contributions of refugees in their areas. 

Below are some additional resources to help you in planning your events and worship to celebrate refugees!:

  • Plan now to TAKE ACTION that shares your support for refugees by signing and delivering these Refugees Welcome/Restoring Welcome Postcards to your national, state, and local leadership offices!  Download and send to the Administration at: President Joe Biden, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20500, and to your US Senators and US Representative. Find your Representative, and click on their name for their website to find their physical address.
  • Also, please share  these Disciples graphics on social media that celebrate how Disciples have long been committed to welcoming refugees!  Like and tag Disciples Refugee & Immigration on FB at: http://bit.ly/RIMFacebook, on Twitter: @StanleyRea, and on Instagram as sharonstanleyrea, then download and share the images on your social media.                                                                                                                                   
  • You may also wish to hand out this “Immigrant Prayer Card” in your worship, Sunday School, or other gatherings to encourage prayer for immigrant neighbors. Tape a few sunflower or other seeds to each card before distribution.
  • Disciples recently joined with all Church World Service and National Council of Churches partner communions in March of 2021 to issue a new “Ecumenical Declaration:  Protecting Welcome, Restoring Hope” in support of refugees and immigrants–which summarizes many key commitments to restore welcoming for refugees and asylum seekers.
  • SUPPORT the ongoing work of Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries to strengthen refugees and immigrates every day! Designate to “RIM” a ministry of DHM at: https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/product/donation. Also, you may mail your contributions to Disciples Home Missions, PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986.
  • Go here to find the closest refugee resettlement office to your area, and contact them to arrange for a refugee speaker.  Reach out to a local immigrant congregation in your area, or contact our office to assist in inviting a local immigrant rights leader to speak. Look here for a map of the resettlement offices. For additional resources go here.