Last week the vestry and clergy of Christ Church gathered at Galilee Ministries of East Charlotte to learn how God is using the former campus of St. Andrews Episcopal Church to transform lives. The Galilee Center has become an integral part of our refugee and immigrant communities, providing weekly meals, citizenship classes, food pantry services, a community garden, and other support services.
Today, June 20, marks World Refugee Day, in which the United Nations invites people from around the world to commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees. The United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 states that a
refugee is someone who has fled his or her home and country due to a "a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." According to the UN Refugee Agency, one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution. Today there are over 68 million forcibly displaced people worldwide.
Galilee Center is a testament to God's redemptive power and what is possible when you use the Bible as a compass. Using the Bible as a compass is how we become Christ's Church in the world and what a group of dedicated Bible readers have been living into over the past year. Just this week a faithful group of 200 readers finished reading the entire Bible. Along the way, there were countless questions and a lot of surprises. For me, I was surprised by how regularly the Bible located me in my life. From countless stories of displaced people (think Noah, Abraham, Ruth, Job, Mary, and Joseph) to the courageous disciples spreading the gospel of Christ - the Bible coupled with reason and tradition provides a roadmap. The Bible speaks of a Kingdom to come in which you and I are invited to be co-creators, where we 'let facts be submitted to a candid world.' Facts are those actions or inactions in which we show the world who, what, why, and how we believe.
Therefore, today and in the coming days, remember to "love your neighbor as yourself." Remember that "justice is love correcting that which revolts against love." And don't forget that "love of neighbor trumps everything." Because Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, respectively remind us to show the world who, what, why, and how we believe.
Faithfully in Christ,
Rev. Matt Holcombe
To watch Bishop Curry's June 20 World Refugee message
To read more about Galilee Ministries of East Charlotte