The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has welcomed the Government’s announcement that Australia will permanently resettle 12,000 refugees from Syria on top of the current humanitarian intake.
Dr Davies has also called upon Sydney Anglicans to make a generous and practical response to the Syrian refugee crisis.
“I am calling upon parishes all across our diocese, not only to pray for these victims of persecution, but to step up and be prepared to do whatever is within their power to provide a warm and generous welcome, coupled with practical assistance, to ensure that those who come to find safety in Australia are afforded the best possible chance to make a new start and benefit as fully as possible from the peace, freedom and opportunity that Australia offers,” Dr Davies said.
“Under the leadership of Anglicare Sydney, I have also asked our diocesan organisations - our schools, our retirement villages, our youth programs and our colleges to come together to assist in any way they can with goods in kind, funds, ESL classes, educational support, personal support and even accommodation.”
“We also look forward to working as effectively as possible in a coordinated manner alongside other non-government organisations and government agencies.
Anglicare Sydney CEO, Mr Grant Millard says that Anglicare is well placed to provide immediate assistance.
“Anglicare has disaster recovery volunteers already trained to assist with the reception of those needing immediate assistance upon arrival and our hamper-packing and second-hand clothing warehouse is available to provide food and clothing.
“We will also be looking to prepare and distribute hygiene and children’s packs as well as facilitate language training through our ESL network across the parishes”.
The Rev Zac Veron, CEO of Anglican YouthWorks, has offered immediate short and medium term accommodation for up to 400 refugees.
“We are preparing to offer medium term accommodation facilities for up to 150 refugees and short term accommodation for up to another 250 refugees”, said Mr Veron.
“We could potentially provide vocational training on one or more of our sites, and invite school aged Syrian refugee children to special camps specifically designed for them”.
Dr Kate Harrison Brennan, CEO of Anglican Deaconess Ministries, has offered to champion a ‘one parish, one refugee family’ approach across the Sydney Anglican Diocese.
"We will seek to help Churches provide a warm and friendly welcome to refugees, regardless of their religion. ADM will coordinate the response of these participating churches as they provide temporary housing to refugees, assistance in finding long-term accommodation, as well as friendly help in using public transport, setting up bank accounts and learning English (as needed). Participating churches will be able to access a pool of grant-funding provided by ADM for this purpose."
Dr Mark Thompson, Principal of Moore College, remarked “Generous non-discriminatory hospitality and practical care for those in such dire need flows out of our understanding of what God has done for us in Christ. We who have been received freely and yet at great cost to God cannot harden our hearts to others at a moment like this. Our College community stands ready to do whatever we can to assist in this important work.”
The Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation and Anglican Retirement Villages have also indicated their willingness to mobilise their students, residents and other stakeholders to provide any assistance they can.
Dr Davies has also highlighted the importance of a non-discriminatory approach in deciding who should or should not come to Australia.
“It makes no sense to be overly discriminatory. Certainly there are some minority groups that have been specifically and systematically targeted by IS. These include, but are certainly not limited to Christians. There are also Yazidis, Druze and Mandeans targeted, along with Shia Muslims. IS show little fear or favour and even Sunni Muslims who do not share their view of the world are just as likely to bear the brunt of their displeasure.”
“Our ability to show love and mercy and provide a warm welcome to anyone regardless of their faith must serve as a counterpoint to the brutality of IS and as an expression of the love of God to all humanity. Our response needs to be immediate, generous and unquestioning with regard to race, ethnicity or religion.”
The Archbishop and Anglicare have also launched 'The Archbishop's Syrian Refugee Crisis Appeal', to provide particular emergency relief and support to Syrian refugees. For more information, or to donate, please visit the Anglicare website or call 13 26 22
An Anglican Aid appeal, that seeks to support relief workers working with refugees in countries neighbouring Syria, is also currently running. For more information, or to donate, visit their website.
Photo: A Syrian refugee in Turkey Flickr UNDP