Jan. 29: Click here for the Â LATEST NEWS from our Syrian Refugee Response team!
SAVE THE DATE: MARCH 4, 7:30 PM, AT CEDAR PARK–AN SRR EVENTÂ
For the past 18 months Cedar Parkers have been responding to the growing global refugee crisis.
A year ago, we took part in our first Ride for Refuge, and sent the monies raised to two local non-profit organizations who work on the front lines of refugee support work here in Montreal; the Just Solutions Clinic run by the United Churchâ€™s Montreal City Mission, and Actions RÃ©fugiÃ©s MontrÃ©al, an ecumenical non-profit organizatio, whose director is our own Paul Clarke.
As the crisis deepened over the summer and early Fall, we renewed our efforts for the Ride for Refuge, and on October 4, Â over 100 people donated to our 16 Riders (age range 9 to 70+!) to raise $6500 to support the same two partners in mission support for refugees.Â But the strong call from God for us to do more was getting louder, so we began to prepare for a Syrian Refugee response meeting at which we would discern how we as a Caring Community might respond in a faithful, sustainable way to this human tragedy.
The Meeting (Tuesday October 27)
This past Tuesday we held a meeting at Cedar Park to discern what that response might be.Â Â I cannot tell you how blessed, proud, moved I was that 23 people attended, with 10 others letting us know of their commitment to this call, even though they couldnâ€™t attend.Â 30 people in a congregation this size is phenomenal, and a tangible sign of God moving among us, calling us to faithful action.
A member of our congregation, Megan Bradley, whose professional work focusses on forced migration, justice for refugees, began the evening with an analysis of the current crisis, sharing some statistics that are chilling; did you know that the average time a refugee is forced to live in temporary shelter is 20 years? did you know that even if war were to end tomorrow, the devastation in Syria is such that rebuilding will take decades, not months?
We also shared the current appeal from the UCC for Syrian Refugee relief, which includes
- a) A financial appeal where donations are matched by the federal government, and 100% of which funds will go to refugee support closer to the areas of Syrian displacement.
- b) Engage in sustained prayer for this crisis
- c) Sponsorship of a refugee/ refugee family.
(See this link: http://www.united-church.ca/communications/news/response/150911)
Thirdly, we shared the information provided to us by the sponsorship support team at Actions RÃ©fugiÃ©s MontrÃ©alÂ on what is involved in becoming a faith-group sponsor.
After some time spent exploring two Biblical texts about Godâ€™s call to protect the â€œwidow, orphan, alien and strangerâ€ (Deuteronomyâ€¦. )Â and Jesusâ€™ parable of care in the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), the gathering spent time discerning our Caring Communityâ€™s faithful response.
It is clear that as a caring community at Cedar Park United, we want to be involved in Godâ€™s care, healing and support for those in crisis.Â From the results tallied from this meeting, we will be asking the Congregational Board to empower a Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Team to explore Â partnership with other faith-groups, or with a Syrian family, to sponsor a refugee family.
At the same time, we are also encouraging all members of our community to join in the United ChurchÂ of Canadaâ€™s three-fold response, namely to pray for Syrian and all refugees, and to make a personal donation to the UCC Syria appeal, knowing that your donation will be government-matched until Dec 31, 2015.
We will keep you informed of what comes next, and how you can be involved in this holy, healing work.
I thank God daily for this Caring Community, and today I add prayers of profound gratitude for your courage to step forward boldly inÂ this direction.
With every Blessing,