Sleepover at church raises funds for refugees

A boy runs through the tents pitched outside Church of the Resurrection.
 on January 1, 2016
Michael Hudson

Jeremy Davies remembers when the feeling of being a refugee really set in. He was sleeping in a tent with his young son on the grounds of the Church of the Resurrection in Toronto when some noise outside woke him up in the middle of the night.

“I woke up cold and seeing my breath,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine doing this night after night. It really opened my eyes.”

Mr. Davies and his son joined about 75 other people who pitched their tents outside the Resurrection on the evening of Dec. 5 to raise money to sponsor refugees. The event was a collaboration between the church, Danforth East Community Association and Neighbourhood Link.

One of the highlights of the evening was a dinner inside the church that was cooked and served by Afghan refugees from Adam House, a Christian agency in Toronto’s west end that provides care to refugees.

“It was really incredible being fed by refugees as we were raising funds for other refugees,” said the Rev. Canon Duke Vipperman, incumbent of the Resurrection.

About 200 people in total visited the church during the event, which included musical entertainment, a candlelight procession, videos and a report on the global refugee crisis and personal reflections on what people were doing and why. Bishop Patrick Yu, the area bishop of York-Scarborough, spoke about efforts in the diocese to help refugees.

Outside, about 28 tents were pitched in the playground, which was protected by a fence and watched over by a security guard during the night. Each tent of sleepers committed to raise at least $250.

The sleepover raised more than $12,000 to help the Danforth East Community Association and Neighbourhood Link bring at least two families to Canada. The meal inside the church raised more than $4,000 for the Resurrection, which plans to sponsor a refugee family.

Canon Vipperman said the collaboration was possible because the Resurrection is intentional about getting out into the community. Members of the church belong to the Danforth East Community Association, Adam House and other groups.

“That’s the missional challenge: not simply to respond to a specific need out of our largesse, but to be involved in the life of the whole community,” he said.

By the end of November, 52 churches across the diocese were involved in or had expressed an interest in helping refugees, says a report by AURA (the Anglican-United Refugee Alliance), the official sponsorship agreement holder on behalf of the diocese. AURA is able to set up refugee sponsorships, train sponsors and provide support throughout the sponsorship process.

In September, the diocese earmarked $500,000 for refugee work. An update on that initiative will be posted on the diocese’s website,, as information becomes available.


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