An webinar hosted by the Anglican Alliance saw participants engaging with presenters online to talk about how the Church can best respond to the current refugee crisis taking place across Europe.
Partnership between the Church and other organisations was highlighted by all presenters as a key element of success in efforts to help refugees arriving in Europe.
Participants heard from Janette O’Neill, Chief Executive at USPG; Daniela Morales, Program and Volunteer Coordinator at Joel Nafuma Refugee Center (JNRC) in Rome; Allison Duvall, Program Manager for Church Relations at Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM); and an advocate and refugee from Afghanistan who is now living in Europe.
Presenters tackled issues such as addressing hostility in the local community, forming partnerships with other organisations working with refugees, helping refugees integrate with host communities, and ways in which refugees can enrich the life of the church.
The webinar – ‘Refugees in Europe: How can the Church help?’ – took place on Thursday 13th October 2016 after a consultation brought together representatives from across Europe and the United States to discuss the Church’s unique role in reaching out to refugees and migrants.
Anglican Alliance Co-Executive Director Rachel Carnegie opened the webinar with a prayer, and Janette O’Neill began the presentations speaking about ways the Church can welcome refugees. She said, “We can assert Gospel values by caring for the most vulnerable.”
Janette went on to discuss the different gifts the Church can offer, with an emphasis on forming relationships and providing spiritual support as well as material assistance. She also emphasised the value of partnerships, saying, “No-one can do this alone … by working together we can do so much.”
Daniela Morales went on to speak on the work of the JNRC in Rome, again emphasising the importance of partnerships with other organisations working with refugees, particularly ecumenical initiatives, NGOs and government services. She said, “We cannot do this alone.”
You can also find out more about the work of Church of England chaplaincies in Europe through the Diocese of Europe website. Similarly the churches of the Episcopal Convocation of Europe have an active ministry with refugees.
Other questions highlighted the complexity of the refugee crisis, with participants asking if more foreign aid to refugees’ countries of origin would better address the crisis.
Another asked if and how different cultural attitudes to the status of women should be addressed when resettling refugees.
Answers from presenters focused on the need for compassion and understanding. Daniela said, “It is important to deal with the situation in front of us and help where we can,” whilst recognising the need for a deeper and more nuanced discussion.