The Anglican Alliance has joined a group of 20 Christian organisations in issuing a statementto mark World Refugee Day. The statement celebrates the opportunities for solidarity and learning that come with opening our arms to welcome refugees and calls for more shared responsibility in responding to current large-scale movements of refugees in every region of the world.
The ecumenical group draws from the Biblical account of Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10), recounting the way in which God united the Jew and the Gentile despite their differences. The statement encourages us to welcome the ‘other’: “If we, as a human family, insist on only ever seeing refugees as a burden, we deprive ourselves of the opportunities for solidarity that are also always opportunities for mutual learning, mutual enrichment, and mutual growth.” It continues: “in welcoming those whom we encounter, we meet the God who is always already present with the vulnerable.”
There are currently more than 65 million displaced people worldwide. Since 2000, when the UN announced a World Refugee Day, June 20 has been a time to remember the strength and courage of refugees worldwide, and to commit to supporting those who have been forced to flee their homes. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need.”
In response to the increasing opposition to refugees and migrants worldwide, the joint ecumenical statement pleads for acceptance and unity: “Increasingly around the world we witness the building of walls to keep out the displaced: not just physical walls, but also walls of fear, prejudice, hatred, and ideology. Let us all, as one human family, strive to build bridges of solidarity rather than walls of division […] it is God who brings us together.”
Anglican and Episcopal churches and agencies throughout the Communion are deeply involved in welcoming refugees into their communities, responding to practical needs and discovering mutual enrichment. Read the statement here.