Syrian Refugee Crisis
East-West Encounter: The Syrian Refugee Crisis, A Christian Response
From Father Robert…
The second annual East-West Encounter was an extraordinary opportunity for us to learn firsthand about the plight of Syrian Refugees and how Christians, in particular the Orthodox faithful in the Greek islands, have responded with kindness, and generosity in the face of overwhelming human need. Over 80 people attended the event held on July 14, including a strong representation by co-hosting parish, St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church in Charlottesville. The gatherng was held in the spirit of cooperation manifest so powerfully by the visit of Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis to Lesvos in April of last year.
Following a Moleben (Intercession service) for Refugees and those providing assistance, we enjoyed a time to get aquainted with our visitors during the fellowship time, featuring Middle Eastern foods. Then, Dr. Vasilea Digidiki, a visiting scholar from Harvard University, whose hails from the gateway island of Lesvos, spoke about her profound experience serving the refugees at Lesvos, in conjunction with the ministry of the island’s residents. Local fishermen are being called upon to assist the Coast Guard to pull refugees from the surging waters of the Mediterranean sea when their makeshift boats sunk, then transporting them to camps where ongoing services are rendered as the refugees await resolution of their plight. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have arrived, and been accepted, despite the overwhelming need.
Following a thoughtful question and answer period and further information from Mr. Lou Zagami, development officer with International Orthodox Christian Charities, we were given the opportunity to make a financial donation to either IOCC or Catholic Relief Services in support of the refugees. Many stayed for an extended period of fellowship, making additional contacts and considering other plans to take action on behalf of the refugees.
Additional Information about the Syrian Refugee crisis, including ways to support the efforts locally are available here: http://stnicholasorthodoxchurch.com/syrian-refugee-crisis-more-info/.
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