A church in St. John's is hoping to change people's perception of refugees with a sign that compares the Christmas story to the current Syrian refugee crisis.

In early December, St. Mark's Anglican Church put up the sign, which reminds people that the story of the birth of Jesus is about a Middle Eastern couple seeking refuge.

Church staff said they hoped people passing by would think about the connection between today's refugee crisis and the origin of Christmas.

"We are trying to engage in a conversation. We are trying to get people to look at the current Syrian refugee crisis from a different perspective," said Reverend Robert Cooke.

Reverend Robert Cooke

Reverend Robert Cooke said that while the church received some backlash, most of the reception to the sign has been overwhelmingly positive. (CBC)

"There is a fair bit of, maybe, animosity right now towards the whole process and, we feel, towards Muslims in general."

Photos of the sign have been shared hundreds of times on social media and have even popped up on popular websites like Reddit.

While most of the feedback has been positive, some disagree with comparing a baby Jesus to modern Syrian refugees.

"There has been some negative reaction and some negative reaction to the Syrian sponsorship, but we try not to focus too much on that," said Cooke.

The congregation at St. Mark's hasn't just put up a sign, they've also raised $20,000 in three weeks to sponsor a Syrian family to come to St. John's.

Cooke said the family is awaiting screening and they should arrive in the first half of the new year.