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Clergy urged to Welcome the Stranger in June 11 sermons
By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Photo: A girl looks at a Bible during Mass. On June 11, pastors of Christian churches across Vancouver are invited to preach on Matthew 25 and the theme "Welcoming the Stranger." (Credit: How Hwee Young, EPA / CNS)

The Sunday sermon at Catholic and non-Catholic churches around Vancouver will have a common theme June 11, as priests and ministers preach with a united voice for the first time.

One City, One Message is an initiative encouraging pastors, preachers, and even a few Jewish and Sikh leaders, to give sermons on the theme Welcoming the Stranger.

“Most of us are from somewhere else, even if we were born in Canada,” said Jonathan Bird, organizer and co-facilitator of The Vancouver Consultation. “The theme of welcoming the stranger touches everyone,” he said.

The Vancouver Consultation initiated a year-long dialogue with church leaders in 2016 to discuss what they do well, what could be better, and how they could work together to help their neighbourhoods.

When the process ended last November, one of the ideas participants recommended was a day of common preaching – One City, One Message.

“It’s a very small step, but we are hoping it will lead toward more collaboration,” said Marjeta Bobnar, the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s representative on the consultation’s steering committee.

Bobnar said the theme, chosen from Matthew 25, is one everyone can relate to and all Christians agree on. She said Catholic homilies might touch on refugee sponsorship, feeding the homeless, reaching out to the lonely and elderly, or promoting reconciliation – all areas the Church is active in.

Archdiocesan refugee sponsorship coordinator Diane Chua said 33 parishes welcomed 294 refugees last year. Many of those parish communities were first-time sponsors and struggled to help newcomers learn English and find homes, jobs, and schools. Another 680 archdiocesan-sponsored refugees have applications waiting for approval overseas.

Chua said encouraging pastors to preach on welcoming the stranger is an “amazing” opportunity to talk about the work the Church is doing and to encourage other parishes to participate.

Although the Vancouver Consultation and One City, One Message are aimed at Vancouver pastors and church leaders, the Archdiocese of Vancouver is encouraging all priests from Squamish to Hope to take part.

“This is a new initiative that I haven’t heard about in other cities,” said Bobnar, who hopes One City, One Message will become an annual event.

On June 11, churchgoers will be encouraged to storm social media with ways to welcome the stranger using the Church For Vancouver Facebook Page or by using the hashtag #iwasastrangerYVR.

For more information phone Jonathan Bird at 778-881-2187 or visit

Last Updated on Friday, 02 June 2017 08:47  

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