European church leaders have affirmed the values of dignity, respect and compassion for refugees and migrants. On 4 December, a Christmas statement, signed by more than thirty church leaders from Europe and beyond, was jointly issued by the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC). It was presented to Mairead McGuinness, First Vice-President of the European Parliament in Brussels.
In the spirit of Christmas, we ask you to work and pray for a welcoming and inclusive community in Europe.
European Church Leaders
Signatories from the UK include:
- Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
- Right Revd Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
- Revd Michaela Youngson and Mr Bala Gnanapragasam, President and Vice President of the Methodist Conference
- Revd Nigel Uden and Mr Derek Estill, Moderators of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church.
The signatories of the statement come from diverse church traditions across Europe, including Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and African-Instituted, among others. At the same time, regional and international Christian organisations, chapters of Christian world communions and ecumenical organisations have endorsed the statement.
Speaking after the handover ceremony, pictured above, European Parliament Vice President Mairead McGuiness commented, “This statement is timely, challenging and is really worth reading. It calls upon all of us who have strong shoulders to bear greater weight than those who have less strong shoulders. It reminds us that everyone has a responsibility and that we need to care and if we don’t care at Christmas time than what is the best time to care for those less fortunate.”
“We commit to more fervently articulating and working towards our vision of an inclusive and participatory society – for newly arrived and all inhabitants,” reads the statement.
Offering theological reflection on the story of Christmas and displacement, the statement subthemes read: “Jesus became human, Jesus the refugee, Jesus the stranger”. The statement features a Christian approach to action and policy in church and society arguing for safe passage to protection and realistic labour migration policies in Europe. The church leaders also stress the need for solidarity as a guiding principle for governing migration and refugee reception.
“While drafting the statement and collecting signatures we recognised how broad the consensus is on this topic among churches. This I see as sign of hope, just before Christmas, in the normally very bitter and controversial debate on this topic,” said CCME General Secretary, Torsten Moritz.
“This declaration signed by many Christian authorities in Europe points out the plight of those currently on the roads of exile and knocking at Europe’s doors,” said CEC President, Revd Christian Krieger. “We address this call to peoples and nations in Europe, to political leaders and the churches,” he added.