LERC

LONDON ECUMENICAL REFUGEE COMMITTEE (L.E.R.C.)

Update October 2019

 

The London Ecumenical Refugee Committee is a small group of people representing several congregations in London. This excerpt taken from the October 2018 article written by Convenor John Stewart summarizes our group:

“We often comment on why the members of seven congregations in five denominations took on refugee sponsorship. This led us to examine our faith’s demands on us with respect to welcoming the stranger. We pray for God’s guidance at each meeting and frequently thank God for supports and interventions that just can’t be explained as coincidence. We have known all along that we are not alone and our God loves and watches over all of us in this complicated and challenging situation.”

 

Over the past year (since our update of Oct 2018), L.E.R.C. has undergone some trials (and celebrations):

 

  1. As written October 2018, we had an unsuccessful sponsorship of an Ethiopian family. They arrived in London in June 2018 and by September 2018 had moved themselves to Calgary. Happily, we have had communication with them since their move. The father has been attending school as well as has a job. The daughter was attending school for the first time (grade 2) and enjoying the contact with other children her age.
  2. Early in 2019 we attempted to apply for a family reunification sponsorship, through the PCC (Presbyterian Church in Canada) who is our SAH (Sponsorship Agreement Holder). Apparently30 groups made requests to sponsor that would have involved 70 applications to IRCC for 208 people. This is a 17.5% increase over the number of people the PCC were asked to sponsor in each of the past two years. Their 2019 allocation was for 82 people. L.E.R.C. was one of those groups who made a request for a family of 5, but sadly, we were not successful. There were other sponsorship requests that were received for people who were even more highly vulnerable. 
  3. May 2019 we said good bye to the originator, creator and first Convenor of L.E.R.C.: John Stewart. He passed away after a valiant battle with cancer. Co-convenor Joyce Mitchell stepped up to the leadership role in late 2018 and has continued in that role.
  4. This September 2019, we applied for and were accepted to be the sponsoring* group for a young family from Burma, now living in Indonesia. The Mom, Dad and young daughter will be arriving in November. Now we begin the exciting task of collecting furniture, buying clothing, and locating accommodation for them. [* Our SAH (Sponsorship Agreement Holder) is the Presbyterian Church in Canada and our link is through New Saint James Presbyterian Church here in London.] We understand that they are Burmese but are not Karen and are not Christian.

 

We have also participated in a number of uplifting and wonderfully connecting activities:

  1. A couple of individuals attended workshop type conferences within the city and at the University on new-comers, refugees, and other topics that tie in with what we are working towards.
  2. Some of us joined some Ethiopian friends at a H.O.R.C.O. fundraiser dinner. Others met with some Ethiopian friends at the Addis Ababa restaurant to enjoy authentic foods.
  3. Several of us have attended Grade 8 or Grade 12 or College Graduation ceremonies of our Karen friends.
  4. A few of us attended the Karen Picnic held in Gibbons Park in July.
  5. Some of us have attended Citizenship Ceremonies of some of the Karen as they become Canadian.
  6. We are always warmly welcomed into the homes of our new-comer friends with much appreciation; whether we are attending a meeting, dropping off some furniture, or enjoying a meal with them.
  7. Some of us have been invited to attend the birthday parties of very young Karen children. It is such a joy to see such a celebratory atmosphere over the little ones.

 

Throughout the time of our group’s existence, as we have received in-kind donations we have attempted to distribute to those in need or furnish the apartment for the family that we are working on sponsoring.

 

Now that we are rested from the summer (?) we are eagerly looking forward to this busy and active fall.

  • We are preparing for our new sponsorship family who arrive in November.
  • We are working on different ways we will be able to help the Karen who are here.
    • Possibly we may be able to provide: scholarships for their youth to attend Fanshawe; assistance for the teachers of the Karen Heritage school; reapplying for family reunification; and this is just the beginning of discussions.

 

It is my belief that FBC is still supportive of our small group. The support you can offer is to keep us in mind for in-kind donations like furniture and kitchen items, etc. However, used clothing and foot wear is no longer acceptable as donated items within the Sponsorship Agreement Holder mandate. We also ask and pray for continued financial support; financial through direct donations, or fund-raisers such as the buying of Rheo Thompson Mint Smoothie chocolate bars; and disposing of scrap metal and deceased electronics and batteries through Zubicks on Clarke Road (refer to the attached poster). Thank you for your support you have offered to us in the past.

 

We prayerfully ask you to consider helping us. We could also use more members, and I am aware that many people would rather not sit in on meetings but may just wish to help out on an ‘as needed basis’. Please let me know how you may be able to help us. I would certainly accept help from our teens to sell chocolates, as I could offer volunteer hours.

Just know that we, L.E.R.C., are still active and hoping to help this young family in the very near future while we continue to work with our Karen friends. Please continue to keep L.E.R.C. in your prayers for our work and support of the new-comer or refugee families, both those here now, and those who have yet to come.

 

Respectfully & prayerfully submitted

Karen Chiasson (Recording Secretary of L.E.R.C.)

 

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