Welcoming the Stranger

 on March 14, 2023

Jesus calls us to welcome the stranger, including those living on the margins. Sometimes this is called radical hospitality. One can only imagine how Jesus would include countless marginalized people today. Perhaps this imagining is what we are called to do, given that Jesus himself was a refugee. One population living in desperate circumstances today are the people of Syria. The Syrian refugee migration has been compared to the migration after the Second World War. To make an unbearable situation worse, displaced people living in desperate circumstances most recently experienced earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. The unfathomable got worse.

Many churches have responded to the ongoing crisis in Syria by sponsoring refugees and by donating to earthquake relief efforts. St. James Church in Dundas is praying about how we can best respond to the current crisis of which we have some experience.

The Jean Archbell Refugee Fund was created at St. James Anglican Church in 2016 in memory of the late Reverend Canon Jean Archbell, past Rector at St. James. Jean was passionate in her wish to sponsor and support refugees starting with the sponsorship of a family of 14 from Syria. The parish has steadfastly continued with this work.

At the end of February, a family from Syria was welcomed and another sponsored family of five from Iraq will be arriving in two monthsʼ time. Since the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, there have been many phone calls from family and friends of the newcomers now settled in Hamilton, pleading for help to bring family members affected by the earthquake to Canada. Their homes are gone and they are living in deplorable conditions. What can we do? How can we respond?

On April 30th, at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m., Peace by Chocolate will be on the big screen at The Westdale Theatre in Hamilton. The acclaimed film is based on the true story of a family from Syria who moved to Canada as refugees, settled in Nova Scotia, and established the Peace By Chocolate artisanal chocolate shop. All proceeds will bene-fit the Jean Archbell Refugee Fund and Turkish and Syrian Earthquake Relief.

Peace by Chocolate products will be sold during the film screening and baklava baked and donated by Hamilton’s Arabic Community will be available for purchase. Tickets are only $15 as a minimum donation. Tickets may be purchased online at stjamesdundas.ca or at the St. James Church office at 905-627-1424.

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