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Christian responses to the refugee crisis

by
18 September 2015

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From the Revd Dr Brian Curnew

Sir, — There are six pages headed Refugee Crisis in last week’s Church Times. The day after it appeared, tens of thousands marched in London in solidarity with refugees. What a shame there was hardly a visible Christian presence!

Church insiders may know that particular churches and agencies are active. But isn’t this a moment for witness, to all who will see it, on the pavement and by way of the media — especially the high proportion of younger people on the march, some with banners about compassion and sharing, all too many of whom no longer associate these things with either Christianity or the Churches?

On 29 November, there will be the Climate March, again in London, on the day before the all-important Paris talks begin. Christian Aid and other agencies will be visible. May this not be a time for more church groups with their banners — and, indeed, Churches Together? Even some clergy wearing clerical collars?

It will be Sunday, but the timing from noon to 4 p.m. should make it possible for many groups in and around London to join after worship. It is time to start planning.

 

BRIAN CURNEW
16 Richmond Road
London N11 2QR

 

From Evelyn Sweerts

Sir, — The overwhelming response to the refugee crisis from ordinary citizens has been heart-warming, even as many governments have disappointed. The generous donations are meeting a real need. We risk, however, neglecting long-term follow-up with refugees.

Feeling at home does not just happen, and a warm welcome, while a good start, is not enough. Fortunately, there is much that we can do, and that, arguably, churches are uniquely placed to do.

As followers of Jesus, we care about commitment and value friendship — and not just with birds of our feather. Friendship, like discipleship, is for the long haul. My plea is that churches will either support or start local long-term integration (read: friendship) projects. Anything is possible.

In Sint Truiden (Belgium), volunteers from a local charity are teaching refugees to ride bicycles: practical, fun, and friendship-building. My prayer is that the pilgrim Church, in whose foundations lies the story of a refugee people, would reach out in friendship to those who are far from home.

 

EVELYN SWEERTS
8 rue des Jardins
L-5762 Hassel
Luxembourg

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