Refugee Crisis: The churches seek to help those in need across national borders

On Thursday, 35 church leaders from 20 countries convened in Munich to discuss the European refugee crisis. The World Council of Churches, the Evangelical Church in Germany, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria hosted the conference, with FSPC President Gottfried Locher on hand.
Photo: WCC General Secretary Olaf Fykse Tveit, FSPC President Gottfried Locher, EKD Council Chair Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, and Coptic Bishop Angaelos.

The consultation focused on the exchange of information between the refugee’s countries of origin, the countries they travel through, and their destination countries. Representatives of the Protestant and Orthodox churches of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church discussed possibilities to work together to provide assistance and sought out long-term solutions.

As Gottfried Locher explained after the meeting: “One can now sense the will to stand up for the welfare of the refugees across national borders. There is only one Church of Jesus Christ and it can overcome national borders.” Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Council Chair of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD),  added that Europe had the opportunity to demonstrate a new form of humanitarianism in the crisis.

Gottfried Locher has brought the following message back to Switzerland: “The church should do what it is called to do: to help, encourage, and empower. Specific solutions to the refugee and migration crisis are a matter for the political arena. It is our task to ensure that every such solution upholds the dignity of people seeking refuge.”

The participants in the conference adopted specific recommendations that have been made available in English by the World Council of Churches.