For many years already, Christian Reformed congregations have been involved with refugee sponsorship. This generosity has only increased with the recent influx of refugees into Canada since quite a number of congregations have recently sponsored and welcomed refugees not only to Canada but also into their fellowships. These realities caused the Classis Huron Safe Church Team to ask some questions about the intersection of refugee sponsorship and safe church.
What can we do to protect refugees and new immigrants who make their home among us? How can we best help refugees and make sure that our congregations are safe places for them to be? What sorts of insurance issues are there for congregations that sponsor and host refugees and new immigrants? How are we to understand some of the trauma experienced by refugees? What steps can we take to reduce trauma triggers and support healing in our congregations?
All of these sorts of questions, and many more, led the Classis Huron Safe Church Team to spearhead their 17th annual Inter-Classis Safe Church Conference under the theme of Safe Church and Refugees. The conference was held on March 4, 2017 at the Waterloo Christian Reformed Church with 55 people in attendance. Registrants came from Classis Chatham, Classis Hamilton, Classis Huron, Classis Niagara, Classis Quinte and even from as far away as Thunder Bay (Classis Lake Superior), as well as representatives from Mennonite and Lutheran congregations.
Beginning with a personal refugee story a Kurdish Iraqi refugee, Asmaa Cober helped the conference understand something of the refugee journey from a trauma-informed point of view. Workshops built on her personal story expanded to include workshops on trauma and culture, insurance questions about how to reduce risk for congregations sponsoring refugees, an introduction to “Plan to Protect®” and finally how to become a trauma-informed congregation.
“…the experience of being displaced – of being a migrant and a refugee – lies at the very heart of the biblical narrative.” (Synod 2010: Committee to Study the Migration of Workers)
Feedback from the event was very positive; attendees learned a lot, came away with helpful ideas for their congregations, and were blessed by worship and fellowship. Safe Church Ministry is so thankful to its volunteer team members who work hard to make events like this happen. In addition, a mini-grant from Safe Church ministry also helped, in part, to make this event possible. For more information and to discover how you might get involved, please visit our Safe Church Ministry website.