Church sponsorship of refugees in Canada

Reformed Communique LogoThe spring edition of Reformed Communiqué from the World Communion of Reformed Churches highlights refugee work across the globe. One article highlights the United Church of Canada’s participation in the Canadian government’s refugee sponsorship programme.

“No one chooses to be a refugee,” said Alexa Gilmour of Windemere United Church. “We’re all made in the image of God, and God’s children need support now.”

The Canadian government run a private refugee sponsorship process. The UCC were asked to sponsor 700 refugees. Conferences, presbyteries and congregations within the denomination are able to participate. The UCC website hosts a rich set of information about the process, requirements and budgeting. (Annual costs to a congregation begin at 12,600 Canadian dollars for an individual and grow to more than 30,000 for a family.)

The WCRC article highlights other work in North America.

“If someone breaks the law by crossing our borders without authorization, permission or legal status they are a criminal regardless of circumstances. Such an approach is simplistic and punitive and does not reflect our values as Americans or people of faith and conscience,” said Ken Heintzelman, pastor of Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix, Arizona.

“I am working through all the legitimate channels available to raise awareness and advocate for immigration reform. However, in those circumstances when people’s lives are on the line, I will push the boundaries and appeal to the higher moral law of our faith.”

Immigrants Are a Blessing Not a Burden logoAnother denomination – the Christian Reformed Church in North America – is running an “Immigrants Are a Blessing Not a Burden” campaign to “empower individuals and congregations to change the conversation about immigrants in the U.S. and Canada”. They provide advocacy materials along with workshops to congregations.

More information in the WCRC online news article.