Ways Hamilton Churches Are Getting Involved With Refugees: Part 1

Need some ideas on how your church might consider getting involved with refugees? Want to know what is already happening so you can identify the gaps?

Here are some of the ways Hamilton churches are involved with refugees and new immigrants in our city. Perhaps these ideas will be a stimulus for your congregation.

1. ESL classes (both church based and in partnership with community agencies): English classes have taken different formats at different times. Churches have experimented with offering more formal English classes in the evenings. A reasonable number of volunteers is needed in order to accommodate the different language levels. For more information on this talk to Leny van der Mark or May Marr from Philpott Church.

Another format is a less structured conversational English group. This kind of group is primarily to provide a context for people to practice their conversational skills in a safe setting. This has been done as a church based group, or in the community in partnership with SISO( Settlement and Integration Services Organization) the large settlement organization in Hamilton . For more info on this talk to Ian Havercroft, pastor at Lightway Church

2. Easy English Bible studies: Designed to create a safe environment for people who are interested in growing in their English skills in the context of exploring their faith. Churches have found this kind of group to be a good way for newcomers to initially get involved in a church. For more information talk to Alison Witt

3. ESL Sunday School for Adults and for Children: Similar to the Easy English Bible studies. One church as offered an adult Sunday School class (“Come from Away”) as one of the options for their large groups on a Sunday morning. They break into small groups based on language level for discussion. They have also found it helpful to offer a children’s Sunday school class for those children who are learning English. For more information talk to Leny van der Mark (adult classes) or Lia Dean (children’s classes)at Philpott Church.

4. Women’s Cooking Classes: Done in partnership with SISO (the large settlement agency in Hamilton). Church volunteers work alongside newcomer women learning to cook new dishes. Attracted a large number of women, including many from a Muslim background. They also offer a children’s program on-site at the same time. For more information contact Lorraine Jordan or Christine Sinke

5. Women’s Craft Classes: Similar to the cooking classes but focused on doing crafts together. They also had a Craft Sale before Christmas where women could sell some of their creations. For more information contact Christine Sinke or Lorraine Jordan from Philpott Church.

6. Pick up Soccer (for Men and Children): young adult men gather weekly for informal games of soccer. In the winter months they have met indoors and in the summer in a local park. Great way to spend time as men together and build relationships.  For more info contact Mark Sinke or Edu Pallek at Philpott Church.

7. Community Meals (Soup Lunches etc) Inviting everyone from church to stay for a simple meal of homemade soup and bread together. There is an intentionality to encourage newcomers to stay and for people to eat with someone they don’t know very well yet. Eating together can be a great forum for relationship building. Keeping the meal simple is the key to allowing it to happen frequently.