Welcoming refugees – a toolkit for parishes

The Church of England has launched a toolkit (https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/community-action/toolkit-supporting-afghan-refugees) to support churches in responding well to the situation in Afghanistan and those who are seeking refuge. There are already many people of good will across the diocese who are engaged with welcoming people who are making Greater Lincolnshire their new home. The recent events in Afghanistan have highlighted what was already a serious issue. How well can we welcome those who served our services, diplomats, businesses and charities working in Afghanistan over the past 20 years who no longer feel safe or welcome in their home country?

 

Rt Revd Paul Butler, Lead Bishop for Refugees and Asylum, writes 'Nationally, the ARAP (Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy) launched on April 1st 2021 has now had added to it the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme. Huge numbers have been brought out of Afghanistan in a very short space of time. Over the coming months, it is anticipated many more will arrive through other routes. The challenge for the whole country is to welcome these families and help them build new lives here in the United Kingdom.

 

Alongside this is the reality that for the past few years Afghan citizens have been travelling here seeking asylum. There are thousands already stuck in the asylum system awaiting a response to their claim. How might their claims now be processed more rapidly?

 

God’s call on God’s people has always been to welcome the stranger and help provide for them, (Leviticus 19:34, Hebrews 13.2).  So here is a fresh opportunity to live out this calling. It has to be very practical; hence this toolkit. It is not a quick short-term response that is most needed but a willingness to befriend families and support them for the long haul. It is also a call to stand up for justice and advocate for the most vulnerable.

This pack helps guides us through how we can do this well. Let us pray for God’s wisdom, and the compassion of Jesus to fill us. Then in the power of the Holy Spirit let us pray and act.

 

The toolkit includes an overview to the current context, ideas of how to responds in practice both in the short and longer term, along with prayer and theological resources.(https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/community-action/toolkit-supporting-afghan-refugees)

Prayer

Almighty and merciful God,
whose Son became a refugee and had no place to call his own;
look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger,
homeless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief;
inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts;
and guide the nations of the world towards that day when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen