Sanctuary Sunday 2021

What’s it all about?

Churches across the UK and worldwide are encouraged to celebrate Sanctuary Sunday (also called Refugee Sunday) on 20 June, which this year coincides with World Refugee Day. There are more displaced people in the world today than at any other point in history and the Bible is clear in its expression of God’s loving concern for the stranger and refugee.
Celebrating Sanctuary Sunday is an opportunity to express our prayers and solidarity, but also to raise awareness again of our Christian calling to welcome the stranger and do this openly and proudly.

Below are some resources to help you prepare for this day, the majority of which have been written by people who have personal, lived experience of having to flee their home country and finding refuge in Scotland; or of people with lived experience of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers in their congregations and communities. Please join us as we celebrate our diversity and cultural richness in our local faith communities. We want offer a vision of hope, friendship and solidarity.


How can I get involved?

1. Celebrate Sanctuary Sunday in your local church or faith community

Sanctuary Sunday Worship Material

Together with refugees, asylum seekers and local churches we have produced a weekly worship resource for Sanctuary Sunday. Weekly Worship offers individuals and congregations a range of suggested material which can be used to develop worship for Sunday services. You’ll find reflections on bible passages, sermon ideas, personal stories, song suggestions and prayers for Sanctuary Sunday in this resource. The contributions in this weekly worship material have all been written by people who have personal, lived experience of having to flee their home country and finding refuge in Scotland; or of people with lived experience of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers in their congregations and communities.

Online Church Service and videos

A full ecumenical online service and a series of individual videos that can be used as part of your local Sanctuary Sunday service are available to stream YouTube. These include all elements of a service (songs, prayers, readings and a sermon). In addition, you might want to stream a video recorded by Welcome Churches during your church services on Sanctuary Sunday. The Church in Wales has produces an activity resource for children which you can download here.

God With Us Bible Studies

Why not organise a series of local church bible studies on the theme of sanctuary in the run-up and during Refugee Week (14-20 June) using the God With Us worship resource? In partnership with CTBI we produced this new worship resource on the theme of refuge, migration and sanctuary. We have worked ecumenically to create it and it includes bible studies, prayers, liturgies, stories, poems and discussion ideas, as well as suggestions of what you can organise during refugee week. You can download it or order physical copies here.

In addition, we are organising 3 online bible studies which you are warmly invited to. More information is below:

Part 1: God with us… in diversity: Thursday 3 June, 7.30pm – 8.30pm

Part 2: God with us… in vulnerability: Wednesday 9 June, 7.30pm – 8.30pm

Part 3: God with us… in strangers: Monday 14 June, 8.00pm – 9.00pm

2. Join in with Refugee Week and Refugee Festival Scotland

Refugee Festival Scotland takes place every year in the lead up to World Refugee Day, on 20 June. People from refugee communities make a huge contribution to life in Scotland and this is something worth celebrating. The festival shows off the cultural richness and diversity of Scotland’s communities – the food and drink, music and poetry, art, dance, language and ideas that people bring with them when they settle in Scotland. You can see the full programme of events here.

We Cannot Walk Alone

The theme for Refugee Festival this year is ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’ and as a public symbol of welcome and this theme, you are invited to craft ‘chains of people’ and present them on your church doors and gates. This idea was developed by Quakers in Scotland and is a wonderful and safe way to express that we need others in our lives. Please find a detailed explanation of the activity below. All ages and faith groups can participate.