Open Letter to Federal Party Leaders on the Syrian Refugee Crisis
5 October 2015
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) applauds your commitment and that of other federal party leaders to welcome refugees from Syria and Iraq. We encourage generosity in the face of such tremendous need.
I want to assure you that alongside other Canadians, Evangelicals stand ready to not only welcome but also to sponsor refugees: to open our communities and help them with housing, finding jobs, providing emotional support and enabling them to become established in Canada.
Many of our affiliated denominations are Sponsorship Agreement Holders and have been actively involved over the years, some for decades, in settling refugees. Last October 2014, leaders of several denominations affiliated with the EFC expressed a need to work collaboratively to effectively respond to the humanitarian refugee crisis in Iraq and Syria.
In response, the EFC helped establish the Middle East Refugees Resettlement Initiative (see theEFC.ca/MiddleEastRefugees), thus facilitating a multi-denominational expression of our commitment as Christians demonstrate Christ’s love for the vulnerable.
The denominational leaders signing the Statement of Intent represent over 4,000 local congregations across Canada. Their churches are open to sponsoring anyone in need, regardless of the refugee’s religious beliefs or affiliation. As Christians, we are called in both the Old and New Testaments to welcome the stranger and, as an expression of our love for God, to love our neighbours.
Many of the churches these denominational leaders represent have since demonstrated a strong interest in providing welcoming communities for the many refugees in need. In so doing, they reflect the historical involvement of Canadian churches willing to open their homes and provide workplace opportunities to people who have been displaced by war and natural disaster.
Local congregations are ideally suited to sponsor refugees. They are ready made communities of welcome that are intergenerational, usually intercultural, and whose members and adherents come from all walks of life. In addition, they possess a plurality of skill sets and experiences that will enable them to serve a recently arrived person or family.
We recognize and understand that secure processes are necessary in identifying refugees that qualify for sponsorship. We encourage our leaders and our government to be generous in determining the number of refugees allowed to journey to Canada, and in mobilizing staff and resources necessary to responsibly process them.
Canada has a long tradition of successfully opening it borders to the vulnerable in need of protection and safety and welcoming refugees. Previously, in response to unusual need, Canada has increased the number we welcome to our country. We have done it before, we can do it again. The evangelical community stands with other Canadians in our willingness to do all that we can to provide a safe home for those fleeing war and strife.
Signed by Bruce J. Clemenger, President
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada