THE Archbishop of Canterbury has promised sanctuary for two Syrian refugee families within Lambeth Palace.
A spokeswoman for the Palace said on Sunday that the plight of refugees was something Archbishop Welby “feels absolutely passionate about”, and that he had been considering an offer for a while. Lambeth Palace confirmed that a four-bedroom cottage, suitable for two families, has been chosen.
The announcement came after several dioceses, including York and Chelmsford, put forward houses to help those fleeing the conflict in Syria. The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said last week that the Church could be “at the centre” of the country’s response to the crisis. Hundreds of churches in the UK have been contributing to the effort in varying ways.
A vicar in Birmingham has sent hundreds of Bibles to Christian refugees to the “Jungle” camp in Calais, after crowd-funding more than £500. The Revd Oliver Coss, Vicar of All Saints’, Small Heath, set up a Just Giving page to fund the project, after he was contacted by a friend at the Human Relief Foundation.
The charity has been sending copies of the Qur’an to Muslim refugees in the French port, and recently asked for Bibles. Mr Coss wrote on the fund-raising site: “It’s not very often a Muslim friend Facebooks you and says: ‘Can you get me 100 copies of the Bible?’ But that’s exactly what happened.” He has since sent 150 copies of the Bible in English, Arabic, French, and Farsi.
In Sheffield, an ordinand is planning to send thousands of teddy bears, with “Welcome” notes attached, to refugees arriving in the UK. Joy French, of All Saints’, Ecclesall, set up Project Paddington two weeks ago. She said she was “overwhelmed and delighted” by the response from schools and churches after she received thousands of toys.
In an ecumenical move, the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, joined two Roman Catholic bishops in signing a joint statement on a Day of Action in Calais on Friday to encourage people to respond to the crisis.
Amid crowds of refugees, volunteers, and pilgrims from Canterbury, Bishop Willmott and the RC Archbishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Peter Smith, and the Bishop of Arras, the Rt Revd Jean-Paul Jaeger, called on Christians to “pray and gather information” for the “better treatment” of all nations.
At the Vatican, a family of four, from Damascus, are reported to have moved in after Pope Francis implored religious communities to “show the true meaning of the gospel” by welcoming one family in need.