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Stories of Hope: Welcome Network churches supporting Ukrainians

By 22nd July 2022No Comments
Welcome Network Churches support Ukrainians

“It has been wonderful to see the church in action once again in welcoming ‘the stranger’”

At Welcome Churches we continue to be encouraged by the way that the Church has been at the forefront of welcoming those seeking refuge in the UK. After the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in August 2021 thousands of people arrived in the UK, almost overnight. The UK church quickly mobilised to welcome Afghan families and provide practical help. Similarly, amidst the tragedy of the war in Ukraine, we have once again heard stories of hope emerging from the UK church as they have welcomed refugees into their communities. 

The government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme has enabled people to welcome arrivals from Ukraine into their own homes. This scheme is not without its challenges, and we know that refugees need more than just safe accommodation to feel welcomed and begin rebuilding their lives. We have therefore been so encouraged to hear stories of churches gathering around Ukrainian guests in their communities, as well as their hosts, to provide holistic support, living out the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger. 

Churches from all across the UK have taken the initiative, often starting small, to support Ukrainian arrivals. Many churches have begun by opening a hub, serving as a community space for Ukrainians and their hosts in their local area. Since Easter, Gold Hill Baptist church in Buckinghamshire has run a drop-in café twice a week, offering English lessons to over 40 Ukrainians, and a space where guests and hosts can meet together. Stephen from Gold Hill Baptist Church shares that the café has become a place of community and connection for both hosts and guests…It has been wonderful to see the church in action once again in welcoming ‘the stranger’.” Hosting is a significant undertaking, so it is great to see church communities coming together to support those who are hosting as well as their guests. Stephen has found that “through opening the building we have become the focal point in the village(s) for provision of support for Ukrainian guests and as a result, our church, and I specifically, have had a massive increase in the number of connections with people across the community.” As well as new connections being made within the local community through their work with Ukrainians, Gold Hill Baptist Church has also been able to connect with a church in Ukraine through one of the guests attending their Sunday service. This has provided the opportunity to build a relationship with and pray specifically for the needs of this church. 

Nantwich Elim church in Cheshire has also set up a café on their site as a weekly hub for Ukrainians and their hosts. They have a team of volunteers who come every week to chat and listen with those who come along, and to signpost people if help is needed. This has been particularly successful in providing Ukrainians with somewhere they can meet and converse in their own language, and also a place where hosts can share experiences, advice and support one another. They have especially experienced God working through the friendships forged at the hub. Sue, who was appointed as evacuees co-ordinator at Nantwich Elim, says “As there is a soft play area many people come to the café with their children or meet up socially. So, it is not an exclusive space for our Ukrainian guests and means that children, whatever their nationality, can play together without any language barrier, allowing the adults (guests and sponsors) to chat and share experiences and ideas.” The Church community recently invited hosts and their Ukrainian guests to their Jubilee event and had great fun celebrating together. 

Welcome Churches continues to support churches as they welcome refugees into their community. If your church is part of our Welcome Network, visit our Ukraine Welcome Hub to find resources on Ukrainian culture, trauma awareness, hosting guidance, and ordering Ukrainian Bibles through our partnership with the Bible Society. If your church isn’t already part of the Welcome Network, perhaps this is a great opportunity for you to join and gain free access to resources that will equip you to welcome new neighbours from Ukraine in your local area. You can join the Welcome Network today by visiting welcomechurches.org/join.

If you are part of a church that is supporting Ukrainians, we’d love to hear what you are doing! Get in touch at info@welcomechurches.org

ADDRESS
Bridge House
Riverside Court, Pride Park,
Derby, DE24 8HY

EMAIL
info@welcomechurches.org

PHONE
01332 498041