As disciples of Christ we are called to contribute our gifts and resources in our local church family.
The response in Canada and our Presbyterian Church has been overwhelming. Locally, the Presbytery of Waterloo-Wellington encouraged each quadrant to jointly sponsor one refugee family and allocated $10,000 for this.
In the Guelph quadrant, St. Andrew’s took the lead and in 2015 Knox Session approved becoming a partner. First Baptist also is supporting St. Andrew’s initiative.
FAMILY CATCH-UP, May, 2018
- Ghazi has passed his G2 driving license on the first try and is eager to get a van. He is now working full time as an assembler.
- Both Ghazi and Fatima continue to attend English classes. Both are doing well with their oral English. Fatima loves to cook.
- The children are all doing well at school. They enjoy the school outings. Their English skills have developed very quickly and they often are able to translate for their parents.
- The youngest children have been attending nursery school and daycare.
FAMILY CATCH-UP, September/October 2017
- Ghazi started his no smoking sessions shortly after the September meeting. Since then, he has not had a cigarette, a remarkable achievement after smoking 2 packs a day for over 30 years. He continues to attend the smoking cessation programme.
- The family's dental appointments (14) have continued for just about everyone
- There have been 9 medical appointments and frequently 2 or 3 of the family are included in that apt. Fidaa and Fatima now need glasses. Fortunately the cost of Fidaa's glasses will be covered by the Local Lion's Club.
- Ghazi and Fatima continue with their Monday and Wednesday ESL classes and have friends who also attend.
- All or some of the children have been to hockey games in Guelph, ringette (girls) with various sponsors this fall. The 4 oldest have all been on different field trips with their schools.
- Soon Ghazi will be working on a resume to use when he starts looking for permanent work. Nuhad at Citizenship Wellington will translate his Arabic resume. In the meantime, he has had several small jobs, thanks to several sponsors' initiatives.
- The children are also able to do small jobs.
- Fatima loves to cook for all of us and several of the sponsors have been for dinner to try her Syrian cuisine.....delicious.
- Ghazi is excited to start his driving lessons next week. ABC Driving will pick him up at his house and they provide the car.
- Parents' Day at John Ross was held in mid-October. Fatima, along with the McKinnie's and Harrison's went to John Ross to visit Fidaa's 3 teachers. She has 4 subjects....geography, computers (which involves typing) and that is very difficult for her, and 2 English classes. There are 21 students in her class, all at different levels. She has met many friends and loves it at school. In September she attended a day leadership programme at Chicopee in Kitchener.
- Hasan, Mohamoud, and Abdel are enjoying Westminster Woods School, in grades 8, 6 and 3. They attended for a short time in June and are now completely settled in. Their English is really coming along.
- The English and the math tutors continue to help the family, usually once a week.
- There are now 3 computers in a little work area in the basement.
- You can all be part of helping raise money for Hasan's trip to Ottawa at the end of the year.
- John Borthwick, the chaplain of the Guelph Police force (and also the minister at St. Andrews!) arranged for policeman Kyle, dressed in his uniform, to meet the family in their home. He is the Guelph community relations policeman assigned to Westminster Woods. John also had his police chaplain jacket on. Since some of the family are very afraid of the police, because of how the police worked in Lebanon/Syria. John and Kyle spoke with the family who then asked them questions.
October 11, 2017
The Al Sawal family are now living in a three bedroom townhouse in Westminster Woods. The three oldest boys are attending Westminster Woods Public School. Fidaa, the only girl in the family, is attending John F. Ross Collegiate Vocational Institute. Ghazi and Fatima attend ESL classes twice weekly at St. George's Center. All family members have tutors for English and Mathematics. Two donated computers with a shared printer on a work center are now operational.
On September 30, the family selected winter clothing donated by Knox, St. Andrew's and First Baptist congregations.
June 12, 2017
Our family is in temporary accomodations and will soon be moving to a permanent home.
Thanks to those who donated welcoming gifts to the children.
They now have 6 bikes and 1 tricycle that were donated and we now have a bike seat for the 1 year old boy.
Canadian Tire generously donated 4 bike helmets.
June 1, 2017
Our Syrian family arrived in Canada on June 1.
May 30, 2017
We signed with the University for one of their student resident apartment/townhouses beginning on June 1. There are six bedrooms and three floors with two complete bathrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors. a small living room, and a complete kitchen. The University allowed us into the unit early and volunteers have been stocking kitchen cupboards with food and supplies and readying bedrooms and bathrooms.
There will be more information later on permanent housing.
Thank you to all those who donated to the bins for the children.
April 4, 2017
An email has been sent to our Syrian family in Lebanon and a reply has been received from Ghazi (our Syrian Dad). He has provided a phone number so that we can communicate through a translator. The conversation has begun.
March 12 2017
Our jointly sponsored Syrian Refugee family of eight (Dad, Mom, 6 children -- a daughter, age 13; 5 boys, ages 12, 10, 7, 3, 1) will be coming to Guelph in one to three months.
Arabic is their first language. Dad speaks a little English
The family has no serious illnesses.
The daughter and the oldest son have been to school off and on and have limited education.
They have no family or friends in Canada.
They are too afraid for their safety to return to Syria.
- Occasional DRIVERS for health care and other appointments as needed when the family arrives.
- HELP refugee practice English as a conversation partner.
- Car seats for Children -- Two or more Forward Facing car seats and one or more Booster seats.
Please contact Arnold Bethune if you are able to help in any way.
Good News (Updated May 7, 2007)
To date there is a total of $54,579,18 cash in the bank from the three congregations. Last November we learned that Ikea wanted to contribute to the settling of refugees across Canada. Joanne Harrison submitted an application on behalf of our Joint Refugee Committee. In early August, Joanne was informed that our group was chosen and we were eligible for furniture and other house hold items in the amount of $5,000.00. Joanne and Paul have made arrangements for storage. Any excess money above what is needed will go to Refugees currently living in camps.
Join Our Knox Committee
Your Knox Support Committee includes: Karen Duffield, Mission Coordinator; Marjorie Fraser; Joy Killen; B. J. Miller; Margaret Olsthoorn; Arnold Bethune, contact person in the Guelph Quadrant.
We invite YOU to join our Committee.
Our sponsorship is arranged in partnership with our Federal Government in what is described as Blended Visa Office Referred Refugee Program (BVOR). This means we are financially responsible for the first month upon arrival in Guelph. Months 2 to 7 are paid by the Federal Government and we are expected to assume responsibility for the remainder of the year. Since the Government has difficulty finding sponsors for large families, we plan to welcome a family of five or more.
Government support includes: Provincial healthcare and Interim Federal Health Program benefits, language classes and other newcomer services (employment training, job search et cetera).
Our support group will help with: registration, transportation, orientation – social insurance numbers, Provincial/Federal healthcare, school, language classes, income support programs (child benefits), introduction to community, public transit, shopping wisely, friendship and emotional support.
Will You Help?
This is the first time in the post-World War II era the number of displaced people has exceeded 50 million. Most of us can hardly imagine what it would be like to flee the ravages of war with only the clothes on our back and what we could manage to carry. Even a momentary thought about what they have endured makes us aware of how privileged we are.
Will YOU participate in the spirit of generosity by donating money.
Make your cheque out to “Knox Presbyterian Church” and on your envelope and on your cheque memo, put “Syrian Refugee Sponsorship.”
When we know more about the family we will send out an SOS with specific requests for household or personal items. May you experience the blessedness of giving.
Knox Refugee Support Committee
Landscaping frequently contributes greatly to a sense of welcome and invitation and a spirit of openness and spaciousness.
Garden Committee: Bob Seim, and Glenn Gray
Ministry Opportunities at Knox
At Knox there are many ways for you to use your gifts in service to God;s work within the congregation.
Here are some Ministry opportunities at Knox for you to consider.
Greeters: Welcome people (new and old) as they enter the church, give directions as needed and generally make them feel comfortable.
Two greeters are needed each Sunday at our two entrances, Quebec St. and Chapel Lane. Scheduling is done each quarter and trades can be done between greeters as necessary.
Training will be provided to new greeters.
Ushers: Join an ushering team. There are four people on each team who assist people with special needs, hand out the church bulletins and take up the offering.
Elevator Attendant: Accompany those who need the elevator.
Nursery: Help take care of our littlest children – adult and high school workers.
Scripture Readers: Read the Sunday service Scripture reading on a Sunday convenient for you.
Soundboard Help for Church Service: Setup and work the soundboard. Training provided.
Seasonal Decorations: Assist in enhancing our church at Advent.
Coffee Team Member: Help on Sunday morning for set-up, serving and cleaning up. You will work with other members who will help train you. Signup sheet is on the wall in Metcalf Hall beside the kitchen door.
Sanctuary Choir: Sing in our adult choir. No auditions. Rehearsals are Thursdays from 7:30 – 9:15 p.m.
Handbell Choir: Perform with a group of adult ringers throughout the year. Training is provided. Rehearsals are Thursdays at 6:15 – 7:30 p.m.
Praise Team: Bring your instrument and play with our Praise Team.
Any questions, contact our Music Director, Chris Fisher at the office.
Church School: Teach or assist with teaching a unit of the curriculum in our Church School during the Church Service.
LOGOS: Become a volunteer who works with children or assists in the supper preparation.
Small Group: Lead a small group. Training is provided. Contact the minister, Rev. Johan Olivier at the church office.
Seniors Connecting: Help at our monthly gatherings by becoming a greeter, server, table host/hostess, kitchen assistant, driver.
Library: Set up the library display
Archives: Help organize and preserve the records of Knox Church.
Pastor’s Aid: Support the pastoral ministry of the church by visiting
Contact Rev. Shirley Gale at the office.
Stephen Ministry: Train to be a Stephen Minister.
Contact Rev. Arnold Bethune:
Funeral Receptions: Join the Funeral Committee and organize nourishment and comfort to families who have lost a loved one by preparing a beautiful reception of sandwiches, cookies, coffee and tea.
Prayer: This team provides prayer for anyone who seeks it.
Building & Grounds Ministry
Knox Gardens: Put your green thumb and gardening skills to work outside in the gardens in the spring.
CORE: Become a member of the CORE Emergency Assistance group.