The refugee crisis
The refugee crisis was discussed by members of the Baptist Steering Group this week. Following their meeting General Secretary the Revd Lynn Green has issued the following statement:
As Baptist Christians, we recognise the humanitarian catastrophe that is represented by the current refugee crisis. There is clearly an immediate need to offer help and support to many thousands of desperate people.
At our Baptist Steering Group meeting this week we have been inspired by hearing of the generous response by Baptists to a campaign that encourages our churches to offer beds for Syrian refugees. As Christian believers, our first instinct, and indeed our Gospel calling, is to be a people of generosity and welcome. We therefore seek to support, encourage and enable the Baptists who have offered these spaces in whatever way we can.
In commending these and other possible responses, we encourage all of our churches to be both generous, and to offer support that can be realistically sustained. Our responses will be shaped by the individual circumstances of local church communities, the resources, skills and insights that they can muster, and the opportunities that arise.
As well as being a people of compassion, we are also called to be a prophetic community; we must call upon political leaders across Europe and beyond to unite in common accord to address the sources of this crisis.
We recognise that the refugees’ plight is the consequence of acts of war, terrorism and persecution that in some places has prevailed for years. We are equally concerned that the world’s response is not simply to react to the obvious and immediate emergencies that confront us, but address their root cause by seeking safe, secure and sustainable ways forward in their homelands.
This includes recognising that the growing welcome across Europe still requires treacherous sea crossings which not only expose desperate people to appalling danger, but exploitation from people smugglers and other individuals of harmful intent, some within Europe itself. It is a measure of their desperation that refugees themselves have nicknamed these craft as “death boats”.
Members of local congregations will respond to this in different ways, and we sense that it is through supporting local initiatives and partnerships that we will have the most effect. However, alongside this, we are engaging with various partners to explore how we might use our collective voice to call for an ongoing response that represents the values of God’s Kingdom.
We therefore encourage local churches:
To explore afresh the Biblical perspectives within our Gospel tradition that inform our response to the refugee and stranger.
To respond through prayer both to the individual plight of the many thousands of people who continue to seek refuge, and for the political situations which both cause and offer resolution to this crisis.
To offer practical responses working as much as possible in partnership with other concerned citizens both from within our Christian community and beyond.
To contact their MPs to share concerns and inform future debates in Parliament
In calling our churches to prayer, reflection and response, we will also work with relevant partners to offer advice, guidance and other appropriate resources.
The Revd Lynn Green is General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
Picture: Gordon Welters/UNHCR