Dear Friends in Christ,
Last Monday (September 21st) we celebrated the Feast of St Matthew. St Matthew’s Gospel contains a very telling parable of the Last Judgement in which the Lord reminds us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do also for him. (Matthew 25. 31-46)
The vast humanitarian crisis in Syria and elsewhere which has led to thousands of refugees arriving in Europe concerns us all and has touched the hearts of many. The horrors and indignities that so many refugees suffer are terrible to contemplate. How can we respond? Perhaps the accumulation of millions of individual acts of compassion and generosity can change things, and even change us. While we cannot do everything that doesn’t prevent us doing something. Already the Churches and many Christian people have urged our Government to respond compassionately and said that we can be counted on to give support.
Here in the Diocese of Norwich we are seeking to do three things.
- We are gathering a list of properties and buildings which could be used either to house refugees temporarily or more permanently. This will supplement the information already coordinated by Sanctuary Norfolk, an organisation of faith groups (including our own Mothers’ Union) which has been working for several months to encourage our local authorities to offer places for refugees here. Please send any offers to my PA, Coralie Nichols, by email to email@example.com who will keep a record.
- The Leader of Norfolk County Council has set up a Refugee Taskforce which has begun to meet and on which he has invited me to serve. As information becomes available I will ensure this is shared more widely among the churches as well as other agencies in our diocese. It will be essential for a good infrastructure to be in place for refugees when they arrive so that translation facilities, education and orientation in a new culture are undertaken. This includes giving them opportunities for worship and religious practice.
- We recognise that parishes and individuals may want to contribute funds to be used exclusively for the resettlement and support of any refugees in our diocese. So we have set up an account with the Norwich Diocesan Board of Finance for such funds to be deposited. Those who want to give to help refugees elsewhere in the world may wish to contribute to Christian Aid. Ways to give are outlined below.
Norfolk and Waveney has a long history of welcoming migrants and refugees, known locally as strangers in centuries past. Those strangers have enriched our lives here. More recently Norwich has received Congolese refugees under the UN Gateway programme. We seek to be hospitable. We hope the Government will be increasingly generous in the provision which it makes. We believe many people in our churches will give a heartfelt and generous welcome to those fleeing persecution and hardship and coming to us in great need.
Please pray for peace and justice and do what you can to contribute to countless individual acts of compassion.
Thank you and may God bless us all,
And with the support of the Bishops of Thetford and Lynn, and the Bishop’s Staff team
Ways to Give
- Online - Follow this link to our JustGiving page
- By Text - Text ACTS45 £10 to 70070 to donate £10; or ACTS45 £5 to donate £5;
- By Cheque - Cheques should be made payable to NDBF Ltd, marked clearly on the back of the cheque ‘Refugee Appeal’. Please send the cheque together with a completed Gift Aid declaration (if applicable), which can be downloaded atwww.dioceseofnorwich.org/refugees to Refugee Appeal, Miss S Bunting, Diocesan House, 109 Dereham Road, Easton NR9 5ES
- To give to Christian Aid to help refugees still overseas, go to their website here