Welcoming and Walking With Refugees
In response to the refugee crisis occasioned by the war in Ukraine, the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe has received grant support from Episcopal Relief and Development—the humanitarian agency of the Episcopal Church—as well as contributions from a number of generous individuals, parishes, and dioceses in the broader church. These funds have been set aside in a separate account by the Convocation, with a view to providing both the means and the encouragement for strengthening the ability of all Anglican congregations in Europe to understand more deeply, and to respond more resourcefully, to the needs of all refugees in the communities they serve.
While most of our congregations exist in places where public agencies provide considerable support to refugee populations, there is always something the church is uniquely able to contribute as a companion to, and community for, refugees in our midst. The compassion to which we are called as followers of Christ can take many forms—whether it is providing resources for community-building and mutual assistance, offering educational resources such as language teaching or familiarization programs, or simply providing pastoral care to those who have been traumatized, who have lost homes and families, and who often are vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.
Grant support is now available for Welcoming and Walking with Refugees via an online process of application and documentation, offered at tec-europe.org/welcomegrant:
Click here for more information and grant application
CLICK HERE FOR A PDF COPY OF THE FINAL TASK FORCE REPORT: FOR A CHURCH ON THE MOVE
What are the initial results from your information gathering in 2019-2020?
As the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, our vision is a welcoming community that knows God loves all people – no exceptions. Worshipping together, we rejoice in reaching out to the world and becoming one in Christ.
The Task Force on Migrants and Refugees brought together parish leaders with significant experience and expertise. The report contains practical, step-by-step recommendations and good practices from Convocation parishes—large, medium and small. Charitable outreach to migrants in need emerges as a strength for the majority of Episcopal Churches in Europe. These strategies could be strengthened, inspired by good practice from across the Convocation, and updated for COVID times to address migrants’ new needs and barriers to services.
In most parishes, more attention can be directed to the other three priorities raised by the Task Force:
Communications and digital outreach to reach newcomers and the local community
Witness in worship to migrants, refugees and the diversity of the congregation
Welcoming new members, with a renewed approach to hospitality and local leadership
These three priorities reflect the long-term process of transformation underway in the Episcopal Church in Europe. Today, the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe is looking for new ways to show God’s love for all people and to worship together in our diversity to become one in Christ. These three priorities of outreach, witness and welcoming each require their own strategies and actions.
The Task Force’s Resolutions propose concrete next steps over the next year for the Convocation and its congregations to develop their own strategies on migrants and refugees:
- Adopting a coherent approach: Building solidarity, community, witness and welcome
- Updating websites and social media accounts to reach newcomers and the local community
- Training welcomers for greater hospitality in each congregation
- Bearing witness to migrants, refugees and the diversity of the congregation
- Monitoring and reflection on the congregation’s welcoming approach
How is your work connected to past efforts in the Convocation?
The experiences of migration and exile are at the heart of our faith. We know that Christ commands us to love and welcome the stranger.
The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe joined the “Refugees Welcome” movement that emerged to help newcomers in 2015 and 16. Many of our parish initiatives continue today.
Our churches have always been called to serve and welcome the stranger.
The first Episcopal parishes in Europe were founded by some of most privileged migrants in the world: American tourists and expats. But over time, our parishes have attracted new members: bicultural families, internationally oriented locals and immigrants from the Global Anglican Communion, around Europe and around the world. We are all migrants in one way or another. With English as our lingua franca, we are becoming more comfortably multilingual and consciously multicultural than many other parishes in the US or Europe.
The future of the Episcopal Churches in Europe depends on migrants, because we are all migrants in one way or another.
What could an individual do today to support this work in their parish or local community?
- Read our full report to be inspired by our parishes’ good practices, testimonies and recommendations
- Update your charitable giving to address the new needs and barriers for migrants and others in need
- Join local migration-related action and information groups, whether church-based, ecumenical, inter-faith or secular
- Share online the actions, identity and diversity of your parish community with your friends in your local area
- Provide information and inspiring content for your parishes' website and social media to help newcomers to understand and join your community
- Celebrate World Refugee Day, the experiences of migrants, and the diversity of your congregation during your worship
- Become trained as a “welcomer” in your parish to inform and connect new members to the community, leadership and available training and volunteering opportunities
- Provide your parish with information on local English-speaking groups and integration services