Churches encouraged to take part in Sanctuary Sunday

The Church of Scotland is encouraging congregations to mark Sanctuary Sunday on 20 June as an expression of God's compassionate concern for those seeking refuge around the world.

A group of people celebrating refugees

Taking place at the end of Refugee Week, and this year coinciding with World Refugee Day, Sanctuary Sunday aims to create a culture of welcome, hospitality and safety in our churches.

It comes at a time when more people are currently displaced from their homes than at any other point in history.

Very Rev Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum, said hospitality reflects a fundamental aspect of our Christian calling."The Gospel calls us to welcome the stranger", she said.

"We need too, to listen to the stories of those who have often had traumatic experiences, leading to horrendous journeys that carry even more trauma - all in an attempt to find violence free, freedom and sanctuary.

"Sanctuary Sunday allows us to stand alongside those who have come through so much as we pray and look for ways to support the stranger who longs to be a friend."

It will be a chance to celebrate the contribution to society of those who have begun new lives in Scotland under difficult circumstances.

Those taking part will also be invited to pray with refugees and remember the difficulties they face as well as those who have lost their lives fleeing their homes.

Rev Raheel Arif, who is the minister of Denny Old Parish Church linked with Haggs Parish Church, drew on his own experiences seeking asylum to contribute to the worship material.

He said: "The Church celebrates Refugee Sunday once a year, but our call as Christians is to act every day.

"It is an opportunity for Christ's body to reflect on God's heart for refugees, and to pray and provide for the millions of struggling refugees and displaced people around the globe."

The Church of Scotland recently joined the #TogetherWithRefugees campaign alongside 200 organisations to call for a more humane approach to refugees.

At the 2021 General Assembly, commissioners reaffirmed the Church of Scotland's commitment to working with refugees including campaigning for the development of safe and legal routes for those seeking sanctuary in the UK.

Take part

Weekly Worship material for Sanctuary Sunday

A full online service marking Sanctuary Sunday and online clips are available on the Church of Scotland's YouTube channel.

Find out more about the #TogetherWithRefugees campaign.

'God with us', an ecumenical worship resource on the theme of migration, refuge and sanctuary is available on the Scottish Faith Action Refugees website.