Located in South Tampa and witnessing to the love of God for over 90 years. Committed to a neighborhood presence, worldwide outreach and a deep heritage of Christian faith.

World Refugee Day

The Tampa Bay area is home to the second largest population of refugees in Florida and is one of the larger refugee populations in the country. Throughout the past two years, Palma Ceia has become involved in a number of ministries to serve these strangers among us (cf. Matthew 25). We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from members of this congregation as we have assisted with clothing, housing, sewing projects, furniture, and more. Likewise, we have been overwhelmed by the spirit, generosity, and graciousness of the many refugees we have met.

On June 20th of each year, organizations across the world gather to celebrate World Refugee Day—a day dedicated to raising awareness about refugees and celebrating the many contributions they make to their new communities. This event began in 2001 after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to mark and celebrate World Refugee Day each June 20th.

This year, the Tampa Bay Refugee Task Force will be hosting a commemoration of World Refugee Day on Friday, June 22nd from 1:00 – 3:30pm at Pinellas Technical College (901 34th St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33711). The event is free and open to the public! Click for the World Refugee Day Flyer

The event will include a welcome from St. Pete’s Mayor Kriseman, music and cultural performances, awards for community volunteers, and a citizenship ceremony. A refugee youth photo exhibit sponsored by the local United Nations Tampa Chapter will be on display and crafts made by local refugee women will be available for purchase. Free appetizers will be served from 1:00 to 2:00pm during the networking time.

The keynote speaker at this year’s Tampa Bay World Refugee Day event will be Ghadir Kassab. Ghadir worked for the United Nations for 14 years before coming to the United States and receiving asylum after her home country of Syria erupted in a deadly war. Ghadir is now the director of a dedicated community partner, Radiant Hands, which has assisted hundreds of local refugees in the past four years.

As we join in raising awareness and celebrating refugees both in our community and around the world, I share this prayer from Mark Koenig, Director, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations—

God of the journey,
We remember that Mary and Joseph
Had to flee to Egypt,
Taking Jesus to safety,
Leaving home behind.
Remembering,
We pray for sisters and brothers
Around your world
Who are forced to leave their homes.
We pray for brothers and sisters who are
Driven from home by natural disasters.
We pray for sisters and brothers who are
Driven from unnatural acts of violence and persecution.
We pray for brothers and sisters who are
Driven from home because of inadequate responses to natural events.
We pray for those who leave their countries and cross borders.
We pray for those who are internally displaced,
Finding new places to live within their own country.
We pray for those who are exposed to freezing cold and searing heat,
Those who lack food, water, shelter, and other necessities of life,
Those who are exploited, violated, and abused, and
Those who mourn the loss of place and all that brings.
We give thanks for the strength, courage, and grace of our sisters and brothers
Who are refugees or internally displaced.
We give thanks for the contributions they make in their new places
And for the ways in which they enrich our lives.
Guide the leaders of the world to find creative ways to respond,
To extend protection and provide safe haven,
To care compassionately and respectfully for the needs of our sisters and brothers,
To address the situations and circumstances that force people to leave their homes.
To do justice and to seek peace.
Show us ways that we can support our brothers and sisters whom we encounter.
Inspire us to engage in the efforts to create a world
In which all have a safe place to call home.
We pray in the name of the refugee Jesus,
Amen.

 

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