Reformed Churches to give continued support to pastoral care services for asylum seekers

The Assembly of Delegates of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, which met June 15 to 18 in Scuol (GR), passed a resolution to continue and expand contributions to a solidarity fund for pastoral care services offered to asylum seekers and paved the way for a new draft of the FSPC constitution.

Pastoral care at Swiss refugee intake and processing centers (EVZ)
For the legislative period of 2015-2018, the 26 member churches of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches will continue to make contributions to a solidarity fund for pastoral care services offered at Swiss refugee intake and processing centers (EVZ) as well as the transit zones of Geneva and Zurich airports. This resolution was adopted by the roughly 70 delegates attending the Summer Assembly of Delegates in Scuol (GR). The amount of contributions to be made to the solidarity fund will be decided upon by the churches during the Fall Assembly in November 2014.

The churches have been supporting this service in solidarity since 1999. The currently 16 Reformed pastoral care providers provide support for asylum seekers, helping them to get in touch with clerics of other religions, relief organizations and legal and social counseling centers. During a recent visit to the Basel refugee intake and processing center, FSPC President Gottfried Locher took the opportunity to highlight the difference pastoral care providers can make in improving life conditions at these centers. “Here, the church lives for others,” Locher emphasized.

Constitutional revision process
Last year, the FSPC Council had sent a first draft for a new FSPC constitution to the member churches for general consultation. The compilation of responses received in the course of the consultation process is now available in printed form. On Tuesday, which was entirely dedicated to the constitution, the delegates of the Assembly met in groups and the plenum to discuss how to proceed with the constitutional revision. Now, the Council is called upon to determine the consensus among the churches and discuss further steps with the presidents of the member churches before the Fall Assembly.

Ratio of contributions
The ratio of contributions is intended as an expression of financial solidarity among the FSPC member churches. In keeping with the task assigned by the 2011 Summer Assembly, the FSPC Council had reviewed the basic factors of the calculation of church contributions. These factors include the membership numbers of the churches, the resource index of the cantons, and also a church factor taking into account whether a church receives government contributions and whether it levies a church tax. The delegates rejected the suggestion of the Council. The Council will prepare a new suggestion that can be supported by a majority of delegates. The introduction of a solidarity fund for financially weak churches will be reviewed.