What Elder Holland and Sister Eubank said about supporting refugees who are religiously oppressed

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities and first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, participated virtually in the 2021 AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference June 21-23.

The mental and emotional health of millions in refugee camps — and the support they need in expressing religious faith — was the focus of the summit that brought together faith leaders, academics and government representatives, according to a June 24 Newsroom report.

Held at the historic Cumberland Lodge in Windsor, England, the conference was hosted by Baroness Emma Nicholson, chairman of the AMAR Foundation, which seeks to build and improve the lives and livelihoods of the poor and disadvantaged. The word AMAR translates as “the builder” in some Arabic dialects.

Attendees listen as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles participates virtually in the 2021 AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference, held June 21-23, 2021, at the historic Cumberland Lodge, in Windsor, England.
Attendees listen as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles participates virtually in the 2021 AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference, held June 21-23, 2021, at the historic Cumberland Lodge, in Windsor, England. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

More powerful than simply donating money to support refugees, Elder Holland said during the conference, “Let’s make sure we give them that opportunity to continue their hope, their expression, their love of God or their relationship with God in whatever way it is that they believe.”

Elder Holland emphasized the essential place of music in religious worship and in boosting the individual sense of self-worth among refugees. “We need to give to people the bonds that tie them together and that make them who they are, and music is going to be one of those,” he said.

With refugees remaining in camps for an average of 11 years, caring for their mental and emotional health is critical, Sister Eubank said. The trauma they experienced “must be gently let out in a safe environment and processed with great skill.”

About 32% of Syrian refugee adults report feeling so hopeless that they do not want to continue living, said Sister Eubank, citing research conducted within camps in Jordan by the Center for Mind Body Medicine. She said Latter-day Saint Charities has learned valuable lessons with partners in various parts of the world and offered “three critical suggestions” from these experiences:

  1. “Recognition that spiritual healing is powerful medicine and vital to services.
  2. “Offer basic emotional and spiritual care, including examples of others who have recovered and how they found relief.
  3. “Connect the dots of emotional and spiritual care for a full-range, consistent plan.”
Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities, participates virtually in the 2021 AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference, held June 21-23, 2021, at the historic Cumberland Lodge, in Windsor, England.
Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities, participates virtually in the 2021 AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference, held June 21-23, 2021, at the historic Cumberland Lodge, in Windsor, England. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Gary B. Sabin, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Europe Area, referenced the Latter-day Saints’ early experience of religious oppression and highlighted the principle of religious freedom.

“It is the responsibility of all people of faith and conscience to understand and to advance this fundamental human freedom for themselves and for all of our neighbors,” Elder Sabin said. “For us, our history’s lesson still lingers; it is clear that religious freedom is not to be taken for granted.”

Other participants in the Windsor conference included the Right Rev. Alastair Redfern of the Anglican faith, who conducted the conference; Boyce Fitzgerald, who oversees the Latter-day Saints’ humanitarian outreach in the Middle East/Africa North Area; Michael Bochmann, professor of violin and chamber music at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance; W. Cole Durham, president of the G20 Interfaith Forum; Brett G. Scharffs, director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University; and David M. Kirkham, senior fellow, BYU Law School.  

The AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference was held June 21-23, 2021, at Cumberland Lodge, in the picturesque grounds of Windsor Great Park, England.
The AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference was held June 21-23, 2021, at Cumberland Lodge, in the picturesque grounds of Windsor Great Park, England. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints