Orphan Sunday + Stand Sunday
November 12th, 2023
Are you ready? This year’s Orphan Sunday + Stand Sunday will be celebrated on November 12, 2023. We know you are excited and anticipating all that God will do in your church and community this year and beyond. We are also excited about this new season and the growing movement in the global Church to reflect God’s heart for the orphaned and vulnerable, rooted in the vision of James 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion is this: to visit orphans and widows in their adversity, and keep oneself from becoming polluted by the world.”
Check back soon for new resources and some upcoming training events you won’t want to miss!
Building on a Legacy
Each year since 2004, the Church has celebrated God’s heart for orphaned and vulnerable children on the second Sunday in November, first through Orphan Sunday, and then in 2017 through Stand Sunday when the two efforts merged together … Orphan Sunday for the purpose of inviting the church to care for orphans worldwide and Stand Sunday for the purpose of calling the church to stand for children and families in the U.S. Foster Care system.
Learn more about the history and legacy of these two special days below.
History of Orphan Sunday
Orphan Sunday came as a gift from the Church in Africa. While attending a church service in Zambia, an American visitor witnessed the local pastor’s passionate call to care for orphans, in a community that had been ravaged by AIDS and poverty. As that first-ever “Orphan Sunday” service ended, one after another the people stepped forward giving out of their own need, offering their food, and some even taking off their own shoes and placing them in the offering basket for orphans.
“God sets the lonely in families.”
That visitor, Gary Schneider, was so deeply impacted by what he had witnessed that he began to help Zambian leaders coordinate Orphan Sunday efforts across Zambia and also shared the vision in the U.S. as well.
In 2009, the Christian Alliance for Orphans began providing united leadership to make Orphan Sunday a catalyst for awareness and action across the U.S. and worldwide. Today, churches and organizations in more than 100 nations observe Orphan Sunday annually. We pray the Church all over the world may be as faithful as our Zambian brothers and sisters to reflect God’s heart for the orphan, both near and far.
History of Stand Sunday
When Bishop Aaron Blake, a pastor and foster/adoptive father, left his breakfast table for church on the second Sunday in November of 2004, he had a sermon prepared… and it wasn’t about foster care:
“I had prepared a sermon to preach that morning that I had worked on all week. I stood up to bring the message when the breakfast table image of our boys came back to my mind. The faces of our sons seemed to multiply in my emotions as I recalled the image from the breakfast table earlier. I knew then that God was prompting our church to answer the call to care for children and broken families.”
Without explanation, Bishop Blake said to his congregation, “Brothers and sisters, there are about 30,000 children in the foster care system in Texas and nearly half a million in the U.S.” He then asked this one simple question (and he wasn’t expecting a verbal answer):
“Who will stand with me to defend, care, and support abused, abandoned, and neglected children in our community?”
After a brief moment of silence, one lady in the back of the church stood up and simply replied, “Pastor … I will.”
Like a tiny smoldering ember dropped in a pile of thirsty pine needles, her voice began to multiply. To his amazement, Bishop Blake watched as one family after another stood up and joined their voices to hers. As a result of that day, this church and the surrounding community has cared for and adopted hundreds of children in foster care over the last 12 years. In fact, their county actually has more than enough foster families to meet the need.