Church of Sanctuary is an opportunity for church communities around the UK to stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers, and to create spaces of safety for those seeking welcome in their communities. It is part of the wider City of Sanctuary network, where over 100 cities, towns, boroughs and areas in Britain and Ireland are working together to welcome refugees and asylum seekers. Church of Sanctuary is currently coordinated by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

Why should we become a Church of Sanctuary?

As Methodists, we’re called to be a good neighbour to people in need, and to challenge injustice. Many churches around the UK already serve refugees in their communities, with food, resources and hospitality. In a time when attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers is becoming increasingly hostile, particularly through government legislation, it’s also essential that we challenge injustice by standing in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers in our communities.

Being a Church of Sanctuary is a commitment not only to support asylum seekers and refugees in our communities practically, but also to speak out against injustice and unfairness, and to seek for welcome for people fleeing oppression and persecution to be offered across the UK.

To explore more and find resources, see: www.churchofsanctuary.org.


How do we sign up?

You can sign up to become a Church of Sanctuary as part of the faiths stream within the City of Sanctuary movement. You will need to demonstrate how you meet three essential criteria: Learn, Embed and Share.

To read the criteria, see: www.faith.cityofsanctuary.org/places-of-worship-sanctuary-award.


What does a Church of Sanctuary do?

Sanctuary is a long-standing prophetic theme of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, calling on churches to provide safety and solidarity for people fleeing oppression and harm. Today, churches are called to be welcoming places of safety for all, and to be proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution.

The Church of Sanctuary network encourages to do three things:

  • Learn about the current context for asylum seekers and refugees in your community, and nationally. Are there asylum seekers and refugees who have been resettled into your community? What are the national policies currently around welcoming asylum seekers and resettling refugees?
  • Embed a culture of welcome in the whole congregation. How can you ensure that the culture you create is safe, inclusive and welcoming to all, especially people made vulnerable by the need to seek sanctuary? Explore together what it means to create spaces of genuine safety and solidarity.
  • Share about the importance of offering welcome, in your community and in the UK. We can draw on our positive relationships and experience of welcome to oppose hostile and harmful policies towards refugees and asylum seekers.

As part of the Church of Sanctuary movement, you’ll have opportunities to connect with other churches and find resources to help you explore what being a church of sanctuary means for you. This will look different for every church, and the resources will help you to discern the right activities and actions in your community.

Explore the Church of Sanctuary website www.churchofsanctuary.org.


Sanctuary Sunday

Sanctuary Sunday is marked at the end of Refugee Week each year, usually in late June. (Find out more about Refugee Week here). It is a chance for churches to celebrate building cultures of welcome, hospitality and safety in our churches. It’s a great opportunity for churches to reaffirm their commitment to welcome refugees and asylum seekers in their communities.

Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal has produced resources to help churches celebrate Sanctuary Sunday. You can find these here: www.churchofsanctuary.org/sanctuary-church-sunday/.


Stories of welcome

Have you got a story of welcome to share? Get in touch with us.