While President Barack Obama weighs punitive airstrikes and increased military action against Syria, American Anglicans are increasing their humanitarian aid to the huge flow of Syrian refugees that have already fled to nearby countries.
White House spokespersons said today that it is no longer a question of whether the US would lead European allies in an attack on the regime of Bashar al-Assad, but only a matter of "where or when" it would occur.
Some concerned local parishes in North Carolina and Virginia from the Diocese of the Eastern United States, Anglican Province of America (APA) are already involved in a month-long campaign to collect emergency offerings to aid refugees in partnership with the Christian Aid Mission based here. Over 1.3 million refugees, 80% of which are women and children, have fled to nearby states where local indigenous churches and missions are involved in first-response aid to refugees.
Meanwhile the Most Rev Walter Grundorf, Presiding Bishop of the APA, is studying a proposal submitted to the Bishop's Advisory Committee to make Syrian Refugees the designated cause for the 2014 Lenten Offering Campaign for Foreign Missions. The annual Lenten appeal is the primary source of funding for the global outreach of the church.
Fr. David Haines, the Vicar General of Foreign Missions for APA is continuing to study the proposal presented to the APA Annual Synod by Christian Aid Mission staff last month in Annapolis, Maryland. The proposal would increase help to indigenous missions and church organizations in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Fr. Glenn Spencer, rector of All Saints Anglican here in Charlottesville, says that this is the most crucial humanitarian crisis right now. His parish missions committee is already contributing to the emergency relief effort.
"We have to help in this," he said in support of the proposal for partnership with Christian Aid, "we cannot stand by and do nothing."
The church's local missions committee and members of the men's group are already collecting aid. The proposal from Christian Aid Mission asks the APA to provide grants for additional delivery vans and support for the "Tents of Peace" and "Meals for Peace" outreach programs already being supported by the mission.
Until recently, refugees have streamed across the borders into Lebanon and Jordan at a rate of from 5-6,000 a day. In both countries, refugees make up nearly a fifth of the current population. On Wednesday, reports from Israel and nearly every frontline state say that the threat of imminent American missile attacks on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad are already increasing the flow of refugees.