News / Calgary

Interfaith group bonds together to support Syrian refugee family

No matter their religion, they're working together in support of a common cause

Breaking down religious barriers to help those in need. Here are a few of the those from Living Spirit Uniter Church, Friends Church and Temple B'Nai Tkivah sponsoring a Syrian refugee family.

Traci Hubbard, Anne Cunningham, Sam Nammoura, Hiyam Janoudi, Nagham Ghanam,14, Adel Ghanam, Tracie Ontko, Jennifer Ferguson and Cynthia Simmons. 

Family members missing: Reham Ghanam, 16, Mohamad Ghanam 8 and Weam Ghanam,11.

Breaking down religious barriers to help those in need. Here are a few of the those from Living Spirit Uniter Church, Friends Church and Temple B'Nai Tkivah sponsoring a Syrian refugee family. Traci Hubbard, Anne Cunningham, Sam Nammoura, Hiyam Janoudi, Nagham Ghanam,14, Adel Ghanam, Tracie Ontko, Jennifer Ferguson and Cynthia Simmons. Family members missing: Reham Ghanam, 16, Mohamad Ghanam 8 and Weam Ghanam,11.

Humanity has no religion, and three religious groups here in Calgary are proving just that.

Members of Temple B'nai Tikvah, Living Spirit United Church and Friends Church have joined forces to sponsor a Syrian refugee family despite their differences in religious beliefs.

“The point is there is no point to be made,” said DeAnn Watson of Friends Church.  “We go to our churches to satisfy our souls but we don’t need that to govern every other part of our lives. We break down the walls because the base of any religion is the same: compassion.”

Cynthia Simmons of B'nai Tikvah said it thrills her to be a part of something that helps ease the suffering in the world.

“The fact that we can all work together while doing that I think is fantastic,” she said.

Anne Cunnigham of Living Spirit United Church said all three groups have brought unique strengths to the table.

“With out congregation we have fewer bodies to do the kinds of jobs that need to be done, whereas Friends is a younger congregation and they have lots of bodies to do more of the things that need to be done, and Temple B’Nai Tivah has some professional people that can really help the family in different ways,” she said. “I think it was divinely inspired myself.”

Hiyam Janoudi and her husband Adel Ghanam, who moved into a home provided by their interfaith sponsors, said their family is so grateful for the massive support team they have.

“We thought maybe we’d get a house where we would be able to live and survive, see light, see sun, but when we got her and met this wonderful group and saw this beautiful house I was surprised, it was beyond my imagination,” said Janoudi through a translator.

Ghanam said the only barrier they face is language, but said the entire family is working to improve their English every day.

“The whole entire group treats us with the highest level of respect, not just for me and my wife, but also for my children,” he said, with help from a translator. “We feel there is love, respect and caring. It’s a deeper connection.”

Sam Nammoura, co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group (SRGS) connected the family with their sponsors. He said he felt relief knowing the family was in such good hands.

“I didn’t expect this to develop to that extent, but I am so happy for them, I feel as though this is literally a prayer being answered,” he said.

Living Spirit United ministers Tracie Hubbard and Jennifer Ferguson said it really boils down to one thing: love.

“It wasn’t about what God’s name was, it was about how we love one another,” said Hubbard.

Ferguson echoed the sentiment.

“What a wonderful way to come into a new Canadian life,” she said.  “Where different religious groups are coming together to renew life out of the devastation they experienced. We all worship the same god whether we call it the same name or not.” 

To learn more about the SRSG visit: www.yycsyr.ca

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