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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

A Statement on the Migrant Crisis

The following statement was issued by St Martin-in-the-Fields earlier today:

A Statement on the Migrant Crisis
Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields

The plight of those entering Europe in large numbers seeking safety, hope and a future is distressing and stirring. As a community we are made up of people who are themselves refugees, many who have known oppression, several who have themselves migrated to make a living in a new country, and a number, including myself, whose parents or grandparents came to this land fleeing persecution.

We recognise and affirm the actions many congregations and communities are taking to befriend and support migrants. Our own ministry with asylum-seekers has been a source of growth and discovery and a blessing to our whole community. We celebrate the warmth and welcome that migrants have received in several parts of Europe.

We wish to challenge some of the widely-stated assumptions surrounding the migrant crisis.
  • We challenge the notion that efforts must be entirely focused on addressing conflict in the countries of origin. Intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya didn’t work; non-intervention in Syria didn’t work either. There is no simple off-shore solution.
  • We challenge the conviction that Britain is ‘full’ and there is neither space nor employment for newcomers. Our own community of staff and volunteers is immeasurably enriched by people from all over the world who have made our city their home – some junior, others who have risen to senior roles; their skills and enthusiasm are a blessing to us all.
  • We challenge the way immigration is discussed as a question of duty – of whether Britain is obliged to take in people who are fleeing persecution elsewhere, how one can verify that the claim is genuine, whether one has to limit the number even of the persecuted, and whether anyone migrating largely for economic benefit has any right to be here. We maintain that migrants have always, and will always, be a source of initiative and energy, inspiration and renewal. The British population is almost entirely made up of people whose ancestors were migrants for a host of reasons: the nation’s dynamism lies in the confluence of diverse cultures.
  • We appreciate the drawbacks of making migration easier and the risks of thereby exacerbating the circumstances that bring it about. But we are a nation that loves to back the underdog; we are a people whose finest hour has been in standing up in the face of oppression; and we long for our country to show its true colours today.
A prayer in the midst of the migrant crisis

Wilderness God, your Son was a displaced person in Bethlehem, a refugee in Egypt, and had nowhere to lay his head in Galilee. Bless all who have nowhere to lay their head today, who find themselves strangers on earth, pilgrims to they know not where, facing rejection, closed doors, suspicion and fear. Give them companions in their distress, hope in their wandering, and safe lodging at their journey’s end. And make us a people of grace, wisdom and hospitality, who know that our true identity is to be lost, until we find our eternal home in you. Through Christ our rejected yet risen Lord. Amen.


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