Advocacy for Syrian Refugees
... in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:4–5, NSRV).
Call to Action
We are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis since World War II. 60 Million people are displaced from their homes. In years past, this nation has resettled as many as 200,000 refugees but in the midst of this crisis, the US only committed to resettling 85,000 in 2016. Our nation has, historically, been part of the relief and welcome for people unable to return home. Our denomination has for decades been active in encouraging our government to resettle more refugees and we have always been ready to assist in their resettlement when they arrive.
Help us encourage our government and one another to remain steadfast in this commitment when so many are in need.
Advocate to the White House
In September, the President will decide how many refugees will arrive during fiscal year 2017. Between now and September, make you desire to welcome more refugees known by Calling, writing, or emailing the White House.
I am ____________________ from _________________________. I am calling to encourage the President to commit to admitting more refugees in fiscal year 2017. We are in the midst of a global refugee crisis. So many are in need of relief. This country has admitted as many as 200,000 in years past and we have the capacity for that level of welcome and hospitality today. Presbyterians are ready to be a part of that welcome and to assist our local refugee resettlement programs.
(Add any specifics of your involvement in refugee resettlement or your own refugee history to personalize your message. If you are writing, include photos of your ministry with refugees.)
Encourage and support one another
Don’t hide your good work under a bushel. Your community is populated with refugees who need to know that, despite national rhetoric, they are still welcome. Your community is full of voters who need to be educated about refugee resettlement and to see that their neighbors support it. The congregations in your faith community need to know that they are not alone in their support of refugee resettlement. Finally, those who make law and execute policy, locally and nationally, need to know that their constituents are convicted by their faith to support refugees. How do you make yourselves known? Take photos of your advocacy and outreach efforts and post them on social media, using the hashtag #WeChooseWelcome We will re-post them on our social media, we take your stories with us as we meet with other Presbyterians and we will tell your stories to our nation’s leaders when we advocate.
Syria is a country of people full of light. Their light shines in the midst of darkness and the darkness has not overcome them. The darkness in Syria is real; in a country of 22 million, 11 million Syrians are displaced from their homes due to years of conflict and instability. In addition, 33,000 Iraqi refugees, displaced from their country since the early 2000s, are now on the move within and from Syria as the violence there continues.
The light in Syria also is very real as everyday kindness and resilience continue. In the midst of chaos, displaced families, regardless of faith and nationality, continue to find churches and mosques ready to take them in and provide food and shelter. Presbyterians have had a mission presence in Syria since the early 1800s. Through this centuries-long relationship, congregations in the U.S. know and daily hold in their prayers the people of and the many ministries, still alive, in Syria.
The violence that has plagued Syria since 2011 has now entered other countries. The United States and other nations are fearful, but in the history of its robust refugee program, the U.S. has never failed to resettle those in need of safety because they share the same nationality of the group(s) forcing them to flee.
We, in this and other refugee-receiving countries, are in a position to choose welcome and shine our light alongside our brothers and sisters from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries; together, the darkness will not overcome us.
Here is how.
- Accept Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons’ Invitation to Choose Welcome. Take a picture with your congregation, friends, and family while holding a sign that says “We Choose Welcome.” Send that photo to your governor. Post on social media with the hashtags: #WeChooseWelcome and #RefugeesWelcome. See who has already accepted the Stated Clerk’s invitation, then send us your photo!
- Use these resources, created by the denomination and Presbyterians in the U.S. and Syria, to lift up refugees in your daily worship.
- Volunteer and donate at your local refugee resettlement agency. Better yet, cosponsor a family with your congregation!
- Use this Presbyterian Disaster Assistance resource to learn about the rigorous refugee screening process. Inform others.
- Let your local leaders know that you, your congregation, and your interfaith and ecumenical partners support refugees from Syria and the world. Use our sample to write a letter. Schedule a visit.
- New anti-refugee legislation is being drafted weekly. Contact your U.S. senators and representatives with this action alert from the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness.
- Write a resolution in support of refugees at your next session or presbytery meeting. Share that resolution on social media using the hashtags: #WeChooseWelcome and #RefugeesWelcome. Send it to your governor, U.S. senators and representatives. Need inspiration? See what other congregations and presbyteries have resolved here.
- Reach out to other faith and community organizations around this issue. Meet for coffee and prayer or co-host a dinner and form relationships that will fuel your faith-filled work and strengthen your collective voices.