Anglicans from across the UK contributed to an online meeting hosted by Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees and the Anglican Alliance earlier today (3 July 2017).
The online meeting which was organised from Edinburgh included presentations on how Anglican and Episcopalian churches and agencies in the UK are working with refugees.
The online meeting was arranged by Isobel Owen, Programme Officer with the Anglican Alliance and supported by Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees Co-ordinator, David Bradwell.
Contributing to the discussion were the Revd Joan Lyon (St Ninian’s Aberdeen, Scottish Episcopal Church), the Revd Sally Smith (Hanley Team Ministry, Diocese of Lichfield, Church of England) and Revd Aled Edwards (a clergyman in the Church in Wales and Chief Executive of Cytûn – Church Together in Wales).
Isobel said: “Hearing from Anglican and Episcopalian speakers from Scotland, England and Wales gave us the opportunity to learn from churches in different contexts and to hear how they are mobilising their assets and creativity to enable the integration of refugees in their communities, and how churches are being mutually enriched by ‘welcoming the stranger’. We also heard how churches are being entrepreneurial about building partnerships and trust with local authorities and other faiths to respond to the most vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers in their communities.”
Joining the call and asking questions included staff from the Church of England, Christian Aid, the Mothers’ Union and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
The purpose of the web meeting was to share learning and best practice around integration, partnership and sanctuary as well as investigating different approaches, and offering encouragement to those responding to the challenges of working in this area. Using video conferencing technology we were able to connect with people in Belfast, Aberdeen, Stoke-on-Trent, Edinburgh, Abergavenny and London.
Participants discussed the UK Government’s resettlement programme for Syrian refugees, the work of churches with asylum seekers facing destitution and detention, work to support integration and sharing the similarities and differences facing Anglican congregations and projects in the different nations of the United Kingdom.
On 2 July a group took part in ‘Shoulder to Shoulder,’ and interfaith pilgrimage to the summit of Ben Ledi organised by Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees and Christian Aid Scotland. Isobel Owen from the Anglican Alliance took part in the pilgrimage walk which invited walkers to reflect on the physical and spiritual journeys made by refugees around the world leaving their homes to seek safety and sanctuary.
The walkers on the pilgrimage collected a stone on their ascent of Ben Ledi which they placed at the cairn on the summit as a symbol of how we can each gift our skills, time, and things of ourselves to bring about integration and belonging for refugees. As the walk continued the group reflected on the assistance and protection that those seeking refuge need, and also took time to remember those who had lost their lives seeking safety. As the group descended from the mountain they reflected on the purpose and meaning of journeys and pilgrimages in themselves, and finally reflected on peace never being taken for granted.