We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

World Refugee Day, June 20

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2

World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000 to celebrate the strength and courage of those around the world who have been forced to flee their home country to escape prosecution or conflict.   World Refugee Day helps to raise awareness about the growing refugee crisis in places like Syria and Central Africa and to focus on ways to improve the lives of refugees. 

“ Refugee” is a legal term used to define an individual who:

“…owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” (1951 Geneva Refugee Convention.) 

Many of the characters we know in the Bible were refugees – Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Lot, Hagar and Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Naomi, Ruth, David, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Mordecai, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, John and much of the Early Church.

Scripture supports refugees.  “So, show your love for the alien.”- Deuteronomy 10:17-19.

“Be a safe place for those on the run from the killing fields.” Isaiah 16:4

The Old Testament, particularly the first five books, is covered with references to the “stranger”.

An important New Testament passage about strangers is Matthew 25:31-40.” for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me”.

Scholars have argued that in the New Testament, “stranger” and “neighbor” are in fact synonymous. Thus, the Golden Rule, “love your neighbor as yourself,” refers not just to people whom you know—your “neighbors” in a conventional sense—but also to people whom you do not know.

So how many refugees are there in the world ? By the end of 2021, 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/statistics/   This includes:

  • 1 million refugees
  • 2 million internally displaced people
  • 6 million asylum seekers
  • 4 million Venezuelans displaced abroad

As of May 2022, 100 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide.  (This is currently the population of Germany). This accounts for an increase of 10.7 million people displaced from the end of the previous year, propelled by the war in Ukraine and other deadly conflicts.

Role of Episcopal Migration Ministries

There are three durable solutions for refugees: repatriation, integration, and resettlement. Thankfully, in many cases, refugees are able to repatriate or return to their home countries once the conflicts there have ceased and civil society has stabilized. Other refugees, who may not be able to return home, are able instead to integrate into the country of first asylum – the country to which they fled for safety. The remaining group of refugees – less than 1 in 100 refugees – is resettled to another nation.

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) is the refugee resettlement program of the Episcopal Church, and a living example of the Church’s commitment to aid the stranger. Resettlement is the last option for any refugee.  When refugees cannot return home, resettlement can take place.   In 2022, EMM resettled 1,639 individuals  from 30 countries into communities in the United States.   EMM collaborated with local partner agencies in 10 Episcopal dioceses to resettle those fleeing persecution. 

How to support refugees ?

1. EMM – Episcopal Migration Ministries

2. UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Fund

3. UNHCR – United Nation refugee support

4. CRS – Catholic Relief Services

5. International Rescue Committee (IRC)