Presiding Bishop Michael Curry encourages Episcopalians to observe World Refugee Day, which is June 20th.
This year’s festival showcases an art exhibit called “#WithRefugees” created by refugees who resettled in Wichita. The festival will also include dance, music, children’s activities and food.
“We want to lift up the voices of the refugees that have resettled here in Wichita,” said Marla Schmidt, field office director of the Episcopal Migration Ministries.The celebration will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Wichita State University’s Shiftspace Gallery, 416 S. Commerce, Suite 102.
In an article titled, “Welcoming Refugees Saved My Dying Church,” Episcopal priest Michael Spurlock describes the transformation that a Tennessee congregation underwent when it was visited by Burmese refugees.
In 2008, while priest of an Episcopal church I feared would be sold due to low attendance and crippling debt, a community of Karen refugees from Burma arrived at our service one Sunday saying they would like to attend our church, and needed help with food, clothing, transportation, medical care, and employment. Their needs, at first, seemed overwhelming in the face of my congregation’s paucity of resources and the impending loss of our church. I was counseled by well-meaning colleagues not to take on this community of refugees, as they would sink an already vulnerable church. As well-meaning as they were, I couldn’t help but think their counsel was cynical, faithless even.
We decided to say, “Hello. We don’t know how this is going to work out, but you come to church with us and we’ll figure it out together.” And so, two wildly different peoples with different cultures, languages, customs, worldviews, and experiences began worshipping alongside one another. In time, we began living and then thriving with one another.
DelCoTimes tells the story of Samuel Cyubahiro, a young refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who now lives in an Episcopal Church rectory.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church got its first refugee family in November 2016. That family included Cyubahiro, Uwiragiye, Muhizi and Faith.
That family stayed only a few months in the two-bedroom apartment the church committee rented for them in the Regency Apartments near the Radnor Township Building. They departed for Seattle after learning from a friend of theirs that the minimum wage was higher there and rents were cheaper. However, their foster son, Cyubahiro, now 18, remained behind, happy at Radnor High School where he has been enrolled since arriving in the township. He’s now living in the Wayne rectory with St. Mary’s pastor, the Rev. Joseph F. Smith, and his wife, Sharon, whose own children are older.
“God gave us a gift of this huge house,” Smith said. “When we heard that there was a need for Samuel, he came to live with us.”
“I really, really like it because I get a chance to meet good people and go to school,” said Cyubahiro. “My life changed.”
“In the name of Mary, Joseph and the Lord Jesus, aid all refugees today, for most of the refugees like the Holy Family themselves, are families, and most are children,” says Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry in his 2017 World Refugee Day Message. “I invite you to observe June 20 as World Refugee Day to learn more about the crisis and to find ways that you can both pray and help in other ways.”
Find out how to help at Episcopal Migration Ministries.