Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney has issued the following letter today to all parishes (see also story at SydneyAnglicans.net):
On Sunday I issued a press release calling upon the government to increase the intake of refugees, given the Syrian crisis, and to call upon our churches to pray for the dispossessed and persecuted.
Today’s news from the Federal Government that Australia will resettle 12,000 refugees from Syria is a welcome decision of our political leaders.
However, I believe that we have an obligation, especially to Christians, to do more than pray (James 2:16). I am therefore calling upon all parishes across our diocese, not only to pray for these victims of persecution, but to step up and be prepared to do whatever is within your power to provide a warm and generous welcome, coupled with practical assistance, to ensure that those who come to find safety in Australia are afforded the best possible chance to make a new start and benefit as fully as possible from the peace, freedom and opportunity that Australia offers.
Under the leadership of Anglicare Sydney, I have also asked our diocesan organisations – our schools, our retirement villages, our youth division and our colleges to come together to assist in any way they can with goods in kind, funds, ESL classes, educational support, personal support and accommodation.
Anglicare Sydney CEO, Grant Millard, says that Anglicare is well placed to provide immediate assistance.
“Anglicare has disaster recovery volunteers already trained to assist with the reception of those needing immediate assistance upon arrival and our hamper-packing and second-hand clothing warehouse is available to provide food and clothing. We will also be looking to prepare and distribute hygiene and children’s packs as well as facilitate language training through our ESL network across the parishes”.
The Rev Zac Veron, CEO of Anglican Youthworks, has offered immediate short and medium term accommodation for up to 400 refugees. “We are preparing to offer medium term accommodation facilities for up to 150 refugees and short term accommodation for up to another 250 refugees”, said Mr Veron. “We could potentially provide vocational training on one or more of our sites, and invite school aged Syrian refugee children to special camps specifically designed for them”.
Dr Kate Harrison Brennan, CEO of Anglican Deaconess Ministries, has offered to champion a ‘one parish, one refugee family’ approach across the Sydney Anglican Diocese. “We will seek to help Churches provide a warm and friendly welcome to refugees, regardless of their religion. ADM will coordinate the response of these participating churches as they provide temporary housing to refugees, assistance in finding long-term accommodation, as well as friendly help in using public transport, setting up bank accounts and learning English (as needed). Participating churches will be able to access a pool of grant-funding provided by ADM for this purpose.” said Dr Harrison Brennan.
The Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation and Anglican Retirement Villages have also indicated their willingness to mobilise their students, residents and other stakeholders to provide any assistance they can.
Our ability to show love and mercy and provide a warm welcome to anyone regardless of their faith must serve as a counterpoint to the brutality of IS and as an expression of the love of God for all humanity. Our response needs to be immediate, generous and unquestioning with regard to race, ethnicity or religion.
I would be pleased if you could bring these matters before your parishioners and reflect upon how you as a parish might make a practical response to this crisis.
With every good wish
Grace and peace
At Glenquarie Anglican we’re looking forward to stepping up to this challenge, not only through the work of Break the Cycle Glenquarie but also directly through the church family and in partnership with neighbouring churches.
You might also be interested in a piece I wrote a few years ago.