Nov. 8th: Orphan Sunday

October 12, 2009 by

In October, we didn’t really get any church holidays. In all fairness, it’s a busy season. With fall festivals, trunk or treats, harvest fairs and tribulation trails, there’s very little room for holidays like Faith in Action Day and Back to Church Sunday from the preceding months.

But I must say, I’m pretty excited about November’s option. Orphan Sunday is Nov. 8th. From their web site:

On Orphan Sunday, Christians stand for the orphan. We are a people called to defend the fatherless … to care for the child that has no family … to visit orphans in their distress … Nov. 8, 2009. Orphan Sunday is your opportunity to rouse church, community and friends to God’s call to care for the orphan.

It’s great to see churches rallying around causes like this that God cares so deeply about. It’s nice to see initiatives like this move us toward a world where the church is known by what we’re for instead of what we’re against.

Does this sound like something your church might want to get involved in? Well here are a few ways churches and organizations have been making waves in giving hope to the orphan:

Hopefully these resources will get you well on your way to answering the question, “What can my church do to serve the cause of the orphan?”

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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7 Responses to “Nov. 8th: Orphan Sunday”

  • Kris
    October 12, 2009

    Not sure if I like this idea or not. I guess it is good to remind people that “true religion” is to care for orphans but the name alone would make me keep my two adopted children home that Sunday. They already stand out in our all Caucasian church since they are from India and everyone knows they were “orphans” so to call more attention to them and their past is not something they would want at all. Maybe a more sensitive name would change my mind.

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  • Greg Smith
    October 13, 2009

    For the past 1000 or so years, All Saints has been a pretty big October holiday… one that fits fairly well with the modern International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church…
    Orphans are important… perhaps we should celebrate them on Epiphany or Holy Name Sunday or Baptism of Jesus or Advent or…

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    October 13, 2009

    But Greg, doesn’t All Saints fall on November 1?
    Kris, you raise an interesting question. These sorts of issues are always sensitive for adoptive parents. I would think much of the packaging of an Orphan Sunday would need to focus on the fact that we are all orphans adopted by God. As an adoptive parent myself, I would hope such a day would be an opportunity to celebrate my son’s story, not call him out in an embarrassing sort of way. That’s certainly a hard line to walk, but embracing his story rather than sheltering him from it seems incredibly important.
    Of course my son is also only a year old and doesn’t have his own opinions on the subject just yet. ;-) I’m sure it also varies child to child. But I would hope the church could find a way to support orphans without alienating the adopted.

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  • Paul Pennington
    October 21, 2009

    Joshua thanks for your kind remarks. This campaign is about pure worship not brand Jesus. Just wanted to mention there will be a LIVE Webcast on Orphan Sunday at 4PM CST November 8th that will include music from Steven Curtis Chapman and no appeals for money or donations….only a plea to be concerned about what concerns the Heart of God. To learn more about this free live event go to
    Paul Pennington
    Hope for Orphans

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  • Joe Gerber
    October 23, 2009

    Another great supplement to the resources already mentioned is the Faces of the Forgotten Google Earth Project ( It hightlights the worldwide orphan crisis by using the power of Google Earth.
    Also, for an article about Orphan Sunday, visit

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  • Aimee
    November 8, 2009

    Kevin, you make a great point to Kris and Kris I can understand your concerns because we have 5 Peruvian children in a pretty much majority caucasian church BUT when orphans or adoption have been talked about at our church my husband and I have found this to be the sweetest moment to use Ephesians 1:5 to teach our children about all of us being adopted when we ask Jesus into our heart (pretty much as Kevin said). It has been a huge time of celebration for all of our adoption that we talk about often. Adoption is such a beautiful word when seen from God’s eyes. Ephesians 1:5 is a great scripture to start with your children and show them that orphan is not just a child in an orphanage but instead anyone of us walking around this earth without our Heavenly Father. And we have taught our children that not only were they orphans at one time but so were we (their parents). Orphan Sunday is an awesome tool that every church should consider doing. The church needs to come forward and take a stand and fight for orphans all over! We are witnessing this tremendously throughout churches because of efforts like these of Orphan Sunday.

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  • Gary Schneider
    November 9, 2009

    Kris, your concern and desire to to protect your sons from the stigma so often attached to the word “orphan” is understandable.
    Having confronted the orphan stigma for the past decade within the Christian community and in particular the HIV/AIDS infected and affected community at large (and being an adoptive family as well) I understand your heartfelt reluctance to participate in Orphan Sunday.
    Be encouraged. Orphan Sunday is for the orphan. It’s a their day! It’s a day to celebrate their life and their worth. It’s a day for the Body of Christ to come together on one day, with one voice for one purpose…to share the love of Christ with the orphan and to identify practical ways for the Body of Christ to meet their needs (Foster, Adoption, Orphan Care, etc.).
    In the early years of the Orphan Sunday movement (Zambia 2003), leaders of the movement were advised to change the name. We were told to adopt the language of UNICEF, and other NGO’s (Non-Government Organizations) or risk alienating the community by further stigmatizing orphans. Suggestions were made to change the name to OVC Sunday. “Don’t you know?” we were told, “we don’t use the word ‘orphan’ any more, it’s stigmatized.”
    OVC is a commonly accepted term used by NGO’s when referring to children in a community who are orphans. It also defines the children within that community made more vulnerable by the added burden placed on impoverished families caring for more and more orphans. Walk into most churches in Zambia and ask the congregation to point to an OVC and they’ll point to most of the children, regardless of whether they’re orphans or not. So in effect, NGO’s have managed to stigmatize all of the children by referring to all children in impoverished, HIV/AIDS infected and affected communities as “OVC’s”.
    But here’s the encouraging message of Orphan Sunday. Through the Church in Zambia, Orphan Sunday is changing the definition of an OVC. The orphan is identified and singled out on Orphan Sunday. Pastors and lay people share the Word of God about orphans and the gospel of Christ for all people. Orphans are prayed for, cared for and singled out as an example of the lengths God will go to care for the least of these among us (Pslam 68:5, “A Father to the fatherless…). Orphan Sunday is the orphan’s day, but it has also become a day for all children to hear the gospel, be sensitized to the orphan’s plight and to care for them just as God cares for them in their own family and within God’s family when we are adopted through faith in Christ.
    What is the new definition they are giving to OVC’s in Zambia – Orphans Victorious in Christ!
    OVC’s in Zambia are now becoming effective evangelists to their peers, their guardians, their communities and the nation – they are orphans victorious in Christ! Call them OVC’s, and you’ll see the biggest smile you could ever imagine! They know what Christ has done for them and they live victoriously through Him.
    It is my hope and prayer that your boys will one day fully appreciate and understand God’s amazing love for them (through you and your family) and through Christ, and that they would join God’s great movement of Orphans Victorious in Christ!
    Blessings, Gary

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