Every week, church groups and organisations across the West of England region ask us to advertise a wide variety of events and initiatives to our churches. It’s unusual to spot a theme, but this autumn it’s very obvious that the themes of migration, refugees, and welcome, are engaging Christians in different parts of the region and from different church traditions.
Church Leaders from across this region, including WEBA Team Leader Nigel Coles, have signed a letter expressing a shared response to issues of migration and Christian welcome.
At the same time, October 2016 will see three different events reflecting on the Christian response to refugees and migration across our region:
Dan Doherty will be well known to many in WEBA for his role as a mission pioneer in Portishead, but he also works for Christian Aid South West Region. Wearing that hat, he’d like to encourage churches to engage with this important issue:
Many of us read news of global conflict and see images of people fleeing their homes in search of safety, and yet we struggle to know if, and how, we might be able to help. Sometimes we are led to believe that these people are searching for a better life, rather than simply seeking basic human rights like peace, shelter and safety; things we often take for granted.
That is why I’m so pleased that the denominational leaders across the southwest have written a letter to their congregations, acknowledging the fantastic work that so many people are already doing to help refugees feel safe, welcome and part of our communities. They also highlight in the letter two ways in which we can respond positively. Firstly, they suggest share our positive experiences of the refugees we know, with local media, to help change the media narrative to a more positive one (www.christianaid.org.uk/change-the-story).
They also commend to us a free conference called Safe and Welcome; a Christian response to refugees and asylum seekers. This unique event will bring together the needs of local charities working with refugees, with many others who are wondering how they might make a contribution. At the event, to be held on 13th October from 7pm, refugees will share their own experiences of seeking refuge in the west of England, and there will also be an opportunity to engage with exhibitions from a variety of local and international charities working with refugees.