Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Churches pledge to welcome refugees in partnership with communities

4th Sep 2015

A message from the Bishops in the Diocese of Chelmsford

The conflicts in Iraq and Syria have created an unprecedented refugee crisis in the Middle East. There are now more than 4.2 million refugees from Syria alone – greater than the total population of Wales!  We can be proud that the UK is providing £900 million to those in the refugee camps.  But we all need to do more!

Jesus said “... for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me ... Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:35-41

Our Christian faith and common humanity inspires and encourages us to show compassion to our neighbours in this horrendous crisis.  Jesus’ parents were forced to flee from Bethlehem with him as a baby to Egypt.

As God’s people in East London and Essex we stand ready to play our part.  As national and local responses develop we will be delighted to work with willing communities (Christian, other faiths and non-faith) and civic leaders to offer sanctuary and welcome to any refugees who are admitted to our area, including providing accommodation.  We are currently looking into practical measures to help the situation.

There is a real and urgent need to act locally in the face of a global challenge, and respond to the UN’s plea for resettlement.  This would be in keeping with the finest Christian and British traditions of championing human dignity and offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution.

Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford

Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking

John Wraw, Bishop of Bradwell

Roger Morris, Bishop of Colchester

A prayer for use at home and in church

Dear Lord,

We cry out in lament!  We have seen humanity washed ashore.

We remember before you Alan Kurdi, the three year old boy who drowned, his brother, his mother  and others seeking sanctuary on European shores. We commit them to your love and everlasting arms. 

We pray for his father in the agony of grief, for the millions like them fleeing war and violence. Our hearts break, our eyes brim with tears, our humanity quakes and we pray for them.

Father, touch us with your love, that as a nation we will open our homes and hearths to the stranger, to those in desperate plight and urgent need.  May we and our leaders in church and nation find courage to respond to the depths of pain and desperation in the hearts of so many seeking sanctuary.

We ask Lord that at this time of testing we do not falter or hesitate, and that at this time of desperate need we provide places of safety, of welcome and compassion for our fellow human beings.