Refugee Week and Refugee/Sanctuary Sunday: Prayer and Worship

What are Refugee Week and Refugee/Sanctuary Sunday?

Refugee Week is an annual “festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.” The last Sunday of Refugee Week is celebrated by many churches as Refugee Sunday or as Sanctuary Sunday, which “aims to promote the Church of Sanctuary programme, building cultures of welcome, hospitality and safety in our churches”

How might we pray during Refugee Week?

This year, two groups have put together short readings and reflections for each day of Refugee Week – for individual reflection, small groups, or use in services.

  • Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’s Sanctuary: The Hospitality of Host, Guest and Stranger, written by Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal and Dr Jayme R Reaves, offers a daily Bible passage, reflection, questions for futher reflection, action and prayer.
  • Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees has put together a collection of five stories, gathered from refugees and people walking alongside them, with a single reflection, action, and prayer accompanying each.

What resources are there for Refugee/Sanctuary Sunday?

If you have just a few minutes in your service ….

  • Choose a prayer from our suggestions below, or look for prayers from your particular tradition in our guide to online resources. Our Ukraine page has prayers in Ukrainian including the Lord’s Prayer and a simple Church of England liturgy of the word commissioned by the Diocese of Chelmsford.
  • Choose a reading from this list of Bible passages relating to refugees
  • Choose a hymn with an appropriate theme: there are suggestions in our guide to online resources. If you’re from a congregation that uses music videos for congregational singing or reflection, you might want to use Resound Worship’s Our God Was a Refugee or Welcome Churches Mercy Song
  • Show a video, such as the Welcome Churches’ (our online guide has other suggestions, too)
  • Ask someone from your congregation or community to share their story The most powerful stories are personal and local. In many of our churches and communities there are people who are active in walking alongside refugees. Asking them to share their story can be a real source of inspiration.

If you want some thoughts for the sermon …

  • All We Can has sermon notes for the Revised Common Lectionary readings in its full service materials
  • Also using the Revised Common Lectionary Readings, The Church of Scotland has notes and sermon suggestions written by people with lived experience of being a refugee and/or walking alongside refugees


If you’d like to dedicate your whole service …

If you’re looking for a whole service, if you’re a Methodist, you may wish to use the service that All You Can (formerly Methodist Relief and Development Fund) has produced for its supporters.