Churches Together in England’s Forum 2022 will be remembered as the moment the church collectively responded to the fast-developing situation involving Ukrainian women and children fleeing from conflict as refugees.
From the CTE Forum floor, delegates were able to question the Minister for Refugees, Lord Harrington, on the speed of the government’s response to the ensuing crisis and well as its less than satisfactory treatment of refugees from other countries such as Syrian or Afghanistan.
The #WePrayForUkraine gathering outside the Ukrainian Embassy in late March 2022 organised by Christian Aid, CAFOD and CTE helped us to stand in solidarity with the Orthodox Church under pressure. CTE’s recent Enabling Group gathering of more than 60 leaders gave us the opportunity to reflect theologically on the roots of the Ukraine crisis and on how the church can practically respond, while continuing to stand for peace.
Since March, CTE along with our partners Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and also Cytûn (Churches Together in Wales) have met fortnightly to support the church as it seeks to play its part in welcoming refugees under the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. We’ve heard first hand about how Wales has welcomed in hundreds of refugees and kept them together as a community. We’ve heard how the Assyrian Church of the East has been assisting Ukrainian families to come to London. We’ve heard how the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) have supported African refugees who have been caught up in the crisis in neighbouring countries such as Hungary.
Prompting the government to focus on the ‘pinch points’ experienced by Member Churches who are trying to help refugees is another role of this roundtable. Questions on schooling, the inequalities between the various settlement schemes and the government’s long-term strategy for Ukrainian refugees have been put to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP. We await answers.
We continue to meet, pray together, distil best practice, share resources and update each other on action being taken, with particular attention to Orthodox voices. Please remember us in prayer.
If you are working with Ukrainian refugees for your church or organisation and would like to join the roundtable meetings please contact Bishop Mike Royal by email.
Photo credit: Marijn Fidder / Caritas International Germany.