Church called to help refugees

A family posing for the camera
The Ogwuonwu family, originally from Nigeria, is one of three landed refugee families worshipping at St. Jude, Bramalea North.
 on September 1, 2021
Submitted by St. Jude, Bramalea North

St. Jude, Bramalea North is a community parish in Brampton. Since it opened in 1977, St. Jude’s has become more multicultural, alongside the surrounding area. On any given non-pandemic Sunday, visible minorities make up half the congregation. Many of the key leadership positions in the parish are filled by people who weren’t born in Canada.

When the Rev. Jeff Stone arrived in 2017, one of his first challenges to the leadership team was to find St. Jude’s mission goal in the wider neighbourhood. Since then, we have developed and strengthened some missions. We made children’s ministry a focus, and a Deacon’s Cupboard food donation box, which had until then been used only to stock food hampers three times a year, was expanded to serve people on an as-needed basis. 

These things happened organically, but St. Jude’s would soon find yet another call to mission: God decided that we were a good place for those seeking refuge in Canada.

One of our key parish leaders is herself a refugee. But over the last four years, we have seen a number of refugee families make St. Jude’s their place of worship. Three families of refugees consisting of 14 people from the Middle East and Africa have added greater diversity and gifts to the congregation. While we already had strong roots in the Caribbean community, the Holy Spirit has blessed us with new families and a new focus.

This year, the Rev. Jeff Stone brought a proposal from AURA (Anglican United Refugee Alliance) to our vestry to sponsor two families from Afghanistan, totalling eight people. The motion passed, and we’re now in the process of working with AURA to start the sponsorship process. While these families aren’t Christian, we feel called to help them escape from the life-threatening situation they’re in. The Samaritan man and the assault victim in Jesus’ parable belonged to different nations and followed different religious practices, yet they were undeniably neighbours. The whole point of the parable is to define the meaning of the term “neighbour” and to illustrate that loving your neighbour as yourself is like loving God “with all your heart, mind and strength.” This is the greatest of all the commandments, Jesus tells us. 

Through the activity of the Holy Spirit, St. Jude’s has found one of its missions: helping and welcoming refugees into our community. Thanks be to God!


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