Hamilton is an increasingly diverse community that includes many migrants and refugees. There are over 70 ethnic groups in Hamilton now. The St Andrew’s Presbyterian parish has supported refugees and migrants as part of its mission since the late 70s, when services for refugees were not as comprehensive as they are now.
A Presbyterian who worked with the local migrant services agency (Refugee and Migrant Service) made a general appeal to various parishes in Hamilton, highlighting the potential to advocate for this sector of the community through the Churches mission programme.
As the needs of the refugee and migrant community have changed, so too has St Andrew’s mission response. Historically, the focus was on resettling refugees; today, the focus is on enabling new migrants to integrate into the community, including the provision of English as a second or other language classes.
To assist refugees and migrants settle into the Hamilton community.
St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Hamilton. St Andrew’s earliest efforts were with helping Vietnamese and then Cambodian people. Two couples responded to the initial RMS appeal for assistance. One of the couples has just been renovating their house and offered their extension for use by Vietnamese refugees for 6 mths, and told their own family they would just have to wait a little longer for the new rooms! Over a short period of time about eight parishioners came to have key roles in sponsorship, and motivating the congregation.
This is a long-standing face of mission within St Andrew’s, having started in the 70s and continuing to this day. In the beginning, having photo display boards in the parish, and people seeing the results, were enough to get the congregation motivated to be involved. Efforts snowballed.
Information for this case study was provided by Lance Kendrick, Convener of the Social and Ecumenical Action Group of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Hamilton.