Don't believe the bad press: Refugees are good for communities
Disparate communities and divided religious groups can unite around sponsoring refugee families, churches are being told.
Christians are being urged to adopt a Syrian refugee family under the government's community sponsorship scheme.
Church groups and inter-faith organisations can sponsor a family as part of the Home Office's attempt to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.
Several churches have already led the charge after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, became the first, housing a family in a cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace.
Tania Bright, chief executive of Church Response for Refugees which is coordinating the drive, urged more churches to follow suit.
'The situation in Syria is worsening by the day. It is easy to feel powerless when we read stories of destruction and displacement. Community Sponsorship offers people of all faiths and none a solution to the unfolding crisis, by resettling one Syrian family at a time.
'It gives you the chance to say, "Yes we can" to showing hospitality to refugees directly. By providing financial, social, and emotional support directly to a newly arrived refugee family, you will be responding to the Gospel call to be Good Samaritans to our neighbour.'
Speaking to Greyfriars Church in Reading on Wednesday night, she added sponsoring a family did not just benefit them, but also brought communities together.
'Of the five families currently placed, the greatest impact has been the incredible shift in how the community has pulled together around the family,' she said. 'It has deepened all layers of those involved, toward each other, such as the Middle Eastern restaurant owner; taxi drivers, school teacher, ESOL tutor, retired Arabic man who volunteers in interpretation and the list goes on.'
Quoting Justin Welby she added: 'Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings, made in the image of God, who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish.'
Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June dozens of supporters are planning to raise money for refugees under the #2020Challenge.
The campaign hopes to spark a wave of donations with people pledging to undertake 20 challenges and then nominating friends to follow suit.
Find out more about the campaign here.