Refugee Week (World Refugee Day June 20)

In 2018, the dates are Sunday 17th to Saturday 23rd June.
#WithRefugees is the theme for Refugee Week 2018 in Australia.

Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. UnitingJustice Australia has released their Refugee Week (14–20 June) resources for 2015 with the theme ‘With courage let us all combine.’ Taken from the second verse of the Australian national anthem, the 2015-2017 theme celebrates the courage of refugees who have refused to deny their beliefs or identity in the face of persecution, fled their homeland and often endured terrifying and dangerous journeys only to face the cruelty of detention before working hard to make a new life for themselves and their families. It also serves as a call to action for all Australians. Download the resource here.

New documentary (2018) – Border Politics (with Julian Burnside): below is a trailer (check it out on IMDB or in cinemas in Australia in June/July).

Imagine if we truly understand and live by the truth that no one wins until everyone wins. Imagine if we understand and were able to see a world where there is no “me”, only “we”, there is no “them”, only “us”. Imagine if we lived by the understanding there is no “their” children or “my” child, there is only “our” children.
A photojournalist was taking pictures of the destruction of the war in Syria when he heard a sniper’s rifle. He turned and saw a child fall to the ground down the street. He rushed to her and she was being held by a man who said, “My child, my child, she’s been shot. Please help!”
The photojournalist ran to get his car and helped the man and wounded child into the backseat. The man said, “My child’s bleeding badly. Please hurry.”
They hurried to the hospital. They rushed the child into emergency leaving the photojournalist and man pacing in the waiting room. After some time a doctor walked through the door with that look that says we did all we could but it was too late.
The man said to the photojournalist, “We must go and find this girl’s father at once and tell him.”
The photojournalist said, “Father? I thought you were her father. You said ‘my child’?”
The man, with tears in his eyes, said, “THEY ARE ALL OUR CHILDREN.”
Those are the tear-filled eyes that can heal and restore our broken world. Those are the eyes of Jesus, the eyes that understand and see they are all OUR children. It seems like a good week to be reminded of the truth that there is no “their” children. They are all our children.
(Source: Steve Koski, Facebook post, 17th June)

In 2000, the 9th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia expressed our commitment to seek “fair, humanitarian, adequately resourced and culturally appropriate government policies and procedures for the processing of refugees and asylum seekers”.


refugee week 2016Also, The Uniting Church’s ‪Refugee Week 2016  resource Searching for Freedom celebrates the rich diversity refugees bring to Australian society! Searching for Freedom is a reminder of what people are doing when they flee situations of persecution and grave danger. 2016 SearchforFreedom_RefugeeWeekResource

Silence Land – a poem by Mohammed Ali Maleki, 2017 while on Manus:
I have doubts about my sanity:
not everyone can bear this much.
They stole all my feelings;
there’s no wisdom left in my mind.
I am just a walking dead man.
I am just a walking dead man.
I have yelled for help so many times –
No one on this earth took my hand.
Now I see many mad things and imagine
how the world would look if it collapsed.
Perhaps it would be good for everything to
return to the past;
for nothing to be seen on the earth or in the sky.
It would feel so good to be a child
again and go back to my mother’s womb,
for there to be no sign of me
for never to have gone crazy in this place
I sound crazy speaking this way! It’s the outcome of being detained for four years after seeking asylum on the sea. Mohammed Ali Maleki, 2017
(This poem, abridged, by an Iranian asylum seeker in detention on Manus Island were read as part of a poetic performance called ‘Through the Moon’. Sourced from ‘Adelaide Voices’, Sep-Nov 2017)


Downloadable resource here.
Because it’s important to understand what’s happening in the world and in Australia for those searching for freedom, this resource includes information about Australia’s history of accepting refugees, what it means to seek asylum, and how many refugees there are in the world and where they are living.
It describes an alternative to ‘stopping the boats’, and includes a section on the situation of the roughly 30,000 people who are living in the community waiting to have their claims for protection processed.
The resource includes worship resources for Refugee Week as well as a number of ideas for what you can do to help bring about positive change.

See also Migrant and Refugee Sunday resources on this site.

Resources for worship

Call to Leaders regarding Refugees
The Uniting Church in Australia responds
to the grace proclaimed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
who himself was a refugee.
We are called to work with all our hearts and minds
to love God, who is revealed in Jesus Christ.
We are called to express love and generosity of spirit
to the world for whom Christ died,
including the most marginalized people.
We seek to love the neighbour who is different
and welcome the stranger in our midst.
We implore civic leaders
to reflect the deep values of Australians,
shaped by different nations and cultures,
who seek to live in a world
characterized by peace and goodwill.
We therefore ask those leaders to embrace
a spirit of compassion
and concern for human dignity
in their considerations with regards
to Refugee and Asylum-seeker policy development.
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Adopted by the South Australian Presbytery and Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia, October 2016)

Prayer of Invocation
God of hospitality and refuge,
come to us here in this place of security and safety. Remind us that you are the God Almighty;
large enough for all people,
all nations, all tongues.
Help us, with the presence of your Holy Spirit,
to be able to create space
for those who seek asylum and refuge.
In the name of Jesus, your Son. Amen.
(Source: UCA 2016 resource)

O Lord, how long shall we cry for help, and you will not listen?
Or cry to you, ‘Violence!’
and you will not save?
Why do you make us see wrong-doing and look at trouble?
In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?
(The response can be sung. The musical setting is in Uniting in Worship 2, p. 200)
Where is your justice, God?
Where is your purpose?
Where is your reason?
Where is your compassion?
Do you not care for your people,
your creation, your reputation?
Your purpose is hidden from our eyes.

In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?

Your reason is absent to our ears.
Your compassion is not discerned by our hearts.
We have no hope (and remember asylum seekers who have no hope).
We are lost (and remember asylum seekers who are lost).
We are afraid (and remember asylum seekers who are afraid).
In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?
(Source: from Uniting in Worship 2, Second Order of Service for the Lord’s Day, pp 200-202, adapted, The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia (2005), Sydney: Uniting Church Press)

A Blessing for Refugees
We bless the host nations in their spirit of compassion and sharing that their citizens may be awakened to the immense human, intellectual and cultural wealth these newcomers represent for them. We bless all concerned in their consciousness that my sister or brother is myself and that the challenge of integrating these immigrants is truly an amazing gift of the universe in helping all work toward the win-win world that alone will guarantee the survival of the human race.
(Source: Pierre Pradervand, 365 Blessings to Heal Ourselves and the World, from The Gentle Art of Blessing page)

We are not alone. We live in God’s world.
We believe in God,
who has freely given the Holy Spirit
to bind us together as a community of grace.
We believe that the spirit can lead us
in the discovery of truth,
in the pursuit of justice, and
in the practice of caring for one another.
In our homes, in the church and in the community
the Spirit offers us inspiration and courage.
We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
(from Prayers on Parade (2006), compiled by Allan Shephard, Stepney, South Australia: Axiom Publishing. Permission is given for the use of this text in worship)

Leftover people in leftover places Hope is our song #85
Leftover people in leftover places,
troubled, disabled, the needy and sad,
scavenging crumbs from society’s plenty,
sick to the soul when their life has gone bad,
these are the ones in God’s upsidedown kingdom
deemed to be worthy and called to the feast,
soup-kitchen people invited to banquet,
valued as greatly as royal and priest.

Leftover people, disposable people,
locked into prisons of drugs and despair,
poverty’s children in poverty’s spiral,
locked out of learning and earning their share,
these are the ones in God’s upsidedown kingdom
these are the Christ in their shabby disguise,
these are the least and the highly unlikely,
given a hope and new light in their eyes.

Here is God’s testing of true Easter people,
spirited people with service to give,
taking to heart the compassion of Jesus,
feeling how others must struggle to live,
we are a part of God’s upsidedown kingdom,
we know the heart of the gospel’s demand,
taking our part with the leftover people,
widening the space of the lines in the sand.
(Words: Shirley Murray; Music: Colin Gibson)


About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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