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Fabulous group photo with our banner!  St.Philip's #WeChooseWelcome message is growing. Our photo will join other Presbyterian congregations who are taking part in this commitment to hospitality & inclusiveness.

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Our #WeChooseWelcome campaign had a billboard up this winter! Located in the Houston Heights neighborhood (Yale & 26th). A major emphasis of the Peacemaking & Social Justice Committee this year is the plight of an estimated 60 million gees worldwide.


We Choose Welcome.

A major emphasis of the Peacemaking & Social Justice Committee this year is the plight of an estimated 60 million refugees worldwide. What is the human and intelligent response of individual Christians? Of nations? Of political parties? This excerpt from "An Appeal to Christians in the United States," signed by approx. 5000 theologians and clergy, including many Presbyterians, is offered for reflection:

Because of fear we too easily caricature or condemn those who are different from us... and we demonize the refugee and immigrant forgetting that Jesus was once a refugee in a foreign land.
 

Peacemaking & Social Justice Committee


The Peacemaking and Social Justice Committee of St. Philip is highlighting
refugee issues in 2016. This is another in our occasional series on refugees.
 
According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there are currently 4.8 million Syrian refugees who have fled war and destruction in their country. Over half of these now live in Turkey; the other half live mostly in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. Only about 10% live in organized refugee camps, while the rest live in urban or rural areas in the host countries. These refugees often have little or no financial support and live in poverty. Relatively few Syrian refugees have been resettled in North America. From October 2015 through July 2016, about 5900 had been officially resettled in the US, with most of those coming since April. Sixty percent of them are children. In the same period, Canada has received and resettled over 26,000 Syrian refugees. The resettlement approval process is lengthy (up to two or three years), and requires interviews and background checks by several agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Counterterrorism Center. Some of these Syrian refugees have been resettled right here in Houston, and we can welcome them as new neighbors.

Romans 12:12-13 Rejoice in hope . . . extend hospitality to strangers.

WE CHOOSE WELCOME - What can we do?

Refugees, By the Numbers
Did you know that there are over 60 million people around the world who are forcibly displaced persons? The United Nations High Commission on Refugees estimates that 63.5 million people have been driven from their homes due to violence, conflict, and/or persecution; about half of these are children. Just over 16 million of these displaced persons are officially designated as refugees who can be resettled by the UN. Less than 1% of the world’s refugees were approved for resettlement in another country in 2015. From October 2015 to May 2016, about 40,000 refugees were resettled in the United States; of these, just under 10% came to Texas, arriving from 34 different countries, including Syria. The largest number came from Burma. The greater Houston area will welcome over 2000 refugees from all over the world in 2016.

Pray for refugees and their safety

+ Support agencies that assist refugees, like Interfaith Ministries Refugee Services

+ Donate household goods for refugees being resettled here

+ Practice welcome: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35)



PRAYER: O God of the alien and the refugee, hear us as we pray for those who are far from home and homeland.  Give them comfort and protection, food and shelter.  Open our hearts to offer a welcome and guide us to know what we can do to show your love to those within our midst who are seeking a new life and who have many blessings to share with us.  Through Jesus who “had no place to lay his head.”  Amen.


WE CHOOSE WELCOME:
The Peacemaking & Social Justice Committee invites all St. Philippians to note this
 We Choose Welcome‬ (WCW) theme and space and to watch for occasional posts from us on the plight of millions of people displaced by war, famine & political upheaval. The Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), Gradye Parsons, recently said this: “As a church of 1.6 million people we can’t take in 60 million displaced persons even if our government allowed it. But we can help change the way people talk about the 60 million.” Here at St. Philip we support the church’s call to extend hospitality to those seeking safety. Yes, We Choose Welcome.



Past Events:

We Choose Welcome‬ for ‪#‎WorldRefugeeDay on June 20th, #‎RefugeeAdvocacyWeek 
June 29th-July 2nd, and beyond, the PCUSA Office of Immigration Issues and the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly urge a time of prayer and recommitment to outreach and advocacy with refugees and asylees.

PRAYER: O God of the alien and the refugee, hear us as we pray for those who are far from home and homeland.  Give them comfort and protection, food and shelter.  Open our hearts to offer a welcome and guide us to know what we can do to show your love to those within our midst who are seeking a new life and who have many blessings to share with us.  Through Jesus who “had no place to lay his head.”  Amen.