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Finding sanctuary: the challenge of migration to communities and churches
A theological reflection and analysis on migration, convened by the World Council of Churches, has highlighted the challenges that the issue presents to Christians. Delegates from six continents came together in Geneva, from 26 to 29 November 2007, to share their collective experience of engaging with the issues related to migration - from the perspective of communities all over the world that were moving, or sending or receiving migrants.
Many fundamental theological challenges were discussed including:
- Is the norm of human community to be settled or migratory and how do we respond to ideas of permanence and change?
- How does our traditional emphasis on nationality (for example in the organisation of national churches) fit with the notion of common humanity?
- Can Trinitarian faith help us explore a theology of plurality and of dynamic intermingling?
- When wealth and poverty are such powerful drivers of migration and of responses to migration, what theology of wealth/poverty can Christians offer?
- What does a theology of vulnerability offer to a world increasingly obsessed with security?
Participating on behalf of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Andy Bruce, from the racial justice team, identified a number of emerging themes that demand attention as work on migration develops in a British and Irish context. These include:
- The majority of migrants worldwide are young people.
- Migration itself and the response by receiving communities exacerbates family disintegration.
- Although it is often men who migrate, migration has a disproportionate impact on the lives of women.
Prior to the consultation, several papers from diverse perspectives were presented, containing worship material, biblical reflections and policy statements arising from different manifestations of the migrant experience. These may be accessed via the WCC website.