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Global migration needs local response, says Bishop of Chelmsford

28 June 2024

Sanctuary Foundation/YouTube

The Bishop of Chelmsford speaks at the Global Migration Summit last week; Dr Krish Kandiah moderates

The Bishop of Chelmsford speaks at the Global Migration Summit last week; Dr Krish Kandiah moderates

THE Church should be seen “as a place of welcome for all”, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, said at the Global Migration Summit last week.

The international gathering — both online and in person at St Mellitus College, London — heard from academics, clergy, and activists on the plight of refugees and asylum-seekers at a time when there are more displaced persons in the world than at any time since the Second World War.

Some asylum-seekers would want to explore Christianity, Dr Francis-Dehqani said, but hospitality was paramount in offering the hand of friendship to refugees and asylum-seekers. “The Church is always at its best at the local level, and local Christians have a huge amount of influence in being able to demonstrate kindness and welcome . . . in the sense of how we can make space for people to come into our community, to contribute, and maybe even change us in the process of that relationship.

“I do what I can in the House of Lords to use my influence in ways I can, but, actually, at the local level, we have the opportunity to impact lives in a way that is hugely, hugely significant.”

The founder and director of the Sanctuary Foundation, Dr Krish Kandiah, moderated the day. “It felt important to hear from the global Church about global migration and the many synergies which are helpful for mission,” he said.

“We are called to be peacemakers when there is so much conflict in global migration, to care for creation when the climate crisis is such an issue, and to welcome the stranger, true to our Christian vocation to welcome the stranger.”

The Rt Revd Professor Tom Wright, setting migration in the political context, spoke about witness and evangelism in the global community. He encouraged Christians to “be faithful, be prayerful, be watchful”. The Revd Dr Chris Wright, of the Langham Partnership, offered an illustration of migration and asylum experience in the Old Testament.

The president of the think tank Fulcrum, Dr Elaine Storkey, outlined how “God’s love for his people does not discriminate where someone comes from or is supposed to belong.” She felt that asylum “should be a human right”, and emphasised how women were often especially vulnerable in asylum-seeker situations.

Tearfund’s director of global advocacy and influencing, Dr Ruth Valerio, made the connections between ecology and migration. “Environmental factors are often behind movement,” she said. “You can’t talk about climate and migration without talking about conflict. In one country, there was drought, which led to civil war, and then migration.”

Other speakers included: the Revd Dr Hikmat Kashouh, of Resurrection Church, Beirut; World Relief’s vice-president for advocacy and policy, Matthew Soerens; the Latin American theologian and missiologist Dr Ruth Padilla DeBorst; the lecturer and writer Dr Vinoth Ramachandra; Natalia Serna; Dr Harvey Kwiyani; and Dr Easten Law.

Watch the talks here

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