Wellington’s Anglican congregations have put their hands up to house and support 40 families – about 160 people – in response to the refugee crisis.
That’s the response to date to a call by the Justin Duckworth, the Anglican Bishop of Wellington, for each congregation across the Diocese to take responsibility for one refugee family.
So far 40 congregations have agreed to take on a family, with more expected to follow suit in coming days. There are 60 congregations in the diocese which covers most of the lower North Island.
Bishop Justin says the approach of asking each congregation to take responsibility for one family was a practical way to respond to the crisis which has seen the greatest displacement of people since the Second World War.
“In this diocese we aspire to serve the ‘last, lost and least’. We cannot have this as a core part of our identity and not respond to this tragedy in a practical way,” Bishop Justin says.
“As a country we have been criticised for not doing enough to respond to the refugee crisis.
“We want to say, loudly and clearly, as the Anglican Church of New Zealand, that we are prepared to help in a practical way.
“We are committing to take over the wellbeing and support of 40 families.
The commitment to house refugee families came following a letter that was sent out by Bishop Justin on Saturday (5 September) to churches across the diocese. The letter was read out at services on Sunday with church members providing feedback to priests.
Participating churches have said they are committed to do what’s required to support one refugee family per congregation. This will include:
• Providing them with a warm and friendly welcome to the country;
• Providing temporary housing and then helping them find long term accommodation;
• Helping them integrate into their new community (by setting up bank accounts, and helping them sort bills etc);
• Helping with childcare and schooling needs;
• Helping them with their immediate medical and counselling needs;
• Helping with learning English, where that’s needed;
• Helping them find work;
• Giving money to help resettlement.
The Diocese of Wellington says it will work closely with expert agencies to ensure a complete level of support and care is provided to families.
The commitment from the Diocese of Wellington is a practical response to calls made yesterday by Cardinal John Dew of the Roman Catholic Church and Archbishop Philip Richardson to increase the number of refugees New Zealand hosts.
Bishop Justin said he is proud that the church in New Zealand is uniting on this issue, and he is aware that other denominations, including the Baptist Churches of New Zealand, are working on their own practical response to the refugee crisis.