In early 2016, when many in the UK were moved by the news of increased numbers of people fleeing to Europe, Reverend Ben Kautzer, at St Nicolas Church, Earley, prepared a Service of Prayer and Holy Communion for Refugees entitled “Into Deep and Turbulent Waters”. It included a eucharistic liturgy, Bible readings, prayers and four prayer stations relating to the refugees’ journey. The evening proved to be a powerful way of engaging the congregation with the topic of refugees and forced migration.
Whilst some things have changed in the refugee situation since then, the issues facing refugees remain. Worldwide there continue to be millions who flee their homes and undertake perilous journeys in search of refuge, including in Europe. It is as important as ever for Christians to heed the call to prayer and action for refugees.
We are sharing these materials with Ben’s permission, to make it easy for you to hold a similar service, or time of reflection, in your church. With the original resources, we are showing how two different events used them in particular contexts. If you do use Ben’s materials, please do give him credit.
Materials prepared by the Reverend Ben Kautzer
The full order of service: St Nicolas – Refugee Service Liturgy v2 (17.03.16)
Title posters for each of the four prayer stations: Displacement, Escape, Refuge, Peace
Prayer instructions and other materials placed at each prayer station:
Escape – This prayer station was built around a real rubber dinghy, as a striking reminder of the way many refugees have tried to cross the Mediterranean
Displacement – This prayer station’s focus was an installation of a refugee camp, made of hundreds of folded card tents, some with LED tea lights underneath – see photo and tent templates below
Refuge – This prayer station focused on finding refuge in Europe and organisations helping refugees locally
Peace – This prayer station used a world map to remember refugees’ countries of origin and plasters as symbols of healing
Additional materials, which could be included in the service:
Examples of how others have adapted these resources
We had an evening prayer service with a focus on refugees at Didcot Baptist Church on 2nd December 2018:
- At the start of the service the following slides, clarifying definitions and statistics, were shown: Intro slides – DBC refugee focus prayer service 02.12.18.
- To highlight that refugees are individuals with their own stories and to encourage empathy, a short extract (the first 3 minutes 53 seconds) of the Jesuit Refugee Service video was shown.
- Each prayer station consisted of a screen/board with a table and a few chairs in front. The prayer instructions and materials for each were slightly adapted, including incorporating words relating to the refugee experience at each stage Words for each prayer station.
- For the “Escape” station, having neither enough space nor a dinghy, we instead used photos of refugees fleeing by boat and on foot.
- The “Displacement” model refugee camp was made from just 20 tents, each with a word on, accompanied by photos of the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan.
- We added a 5th prayer station “Healing” with a wooden cross and candle – Healing – DBC Prayer Instructions.
- The “Refuge and Resettlement” prayer station included the names, logos and brief descriptions of Oxford-based organisations supporting refugees and CCOW’s guide What can I do to support refugees – Info for churches – Oxford-updated Nov 2018.
- The “Peace” prayer station highlighted the top five countries of origin of refugees in the world today Top five countries of origin – World Vision and people could add to the map a prayer or the name of a country on their heart, using sticky notes.
CCOW Time for Prayer and Reflection
CCOW offered a morning for prayer and reflection using Ben Kautzer’s four prayer stations and an additional one, ‘Hostility’. A group of about 15 people took part in opening worship, and then made a pilgrimage around the stations. As we reached each prayer station, we listened to stories and readings relating to the station’s theme; after people spent time at each prayer station, there was an opportunity to share reflections and pray. We ended with closing prayers, gathered once again around the ‘Escape’ station. The whole took a little over 2 hours – and was followed by a simple shared lunch.
Joanna Schüder, CCOW’s Churches Refugee Networking Officer, would be very happy to discuss how you might use these materials in your context. She can share photos and further information about the prayer stations at Didcot Baptist Church and help you access other resources – firstname.lastname@example.org 07774 474601