As the U.S. Senate continues to debate the bipartisan immigration reform bill introduced earlier this spring, leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church commemorate World Refugee Day with a joint statement to “celebrate our churches’ shared commitment to welcoming the stranger through service, accompaniment and advocacy.”
In their statement the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA and the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, wrote that the observance of the day is an “opportunity to examine the dire global and regional conflicts and persecutions that create refugees, and to celebrate the resilience and success of the former refugees who bless communities in our midst with the riches of their earned wisdom, energy and spirit.”
In 2000, the U.N. General Assembly declared that each June 20 would be dedicated to raising awareness about the situation of refugees throughout the world. According to the U.N. Refugee Commission, more than 45.2 million people were in “situations of displacement” around the world as of 2012.