Baptists join call for a co-ordinated response to refugee crisis
Local church members encouraged to add support to Citizens UK's case for a Refugee Welcome and Resettlement Board
Baptist Union General Secretary the Revd Lynn Green has joined religious and community leaders who are calling upon the British Government to implement a co-ordinated and managed response to the growing refugee crisis across Europe.
As the scale of the current crisis began to emerge, Baptist minister and Urban Expression Co-ordinator Juliet Kilpin used social media to invite Baptist Christians to offer accommodation and refuge to those in need. It quickly emerged that not only was there a spirit of openness and generosity among Baptists, but that an initiative like this would also need careful co-ordination and monitoring.
In discussing some of these practical issues with similar groups and activists, the common concern at a potential lack of co-ordination and appropriate support infrastructure has increasingly come to the fore. The organisation Citizens UK, with whom Baptists Together have been in ongoing conversation, are encouraging individuals and groups to make these concerns known.
Citizens UK is a longstanding consortium of community and faith groups who, in response to the outpouring of public support for Syrian refugees, are proposing the formation of two new bodies to enable civil society and the private sector to play an effective role, alongside local and national government and their partners, in refugee resettlement:
A National Refugee Welcome and Resettlement Board; and
Local Refugee Welcome and Resettlement Committees.
Local Baptists are now invited to add their own voices to this growing call for a properly co-ordinated and managed resettlement programme and to contact their MPs and MEPs to urge them to support the formation of settlement boards.
Lynn Green said, 'There has already been an overwhelming response of generosity and concern expressed by Baptists across the United Kingdom.
'It is natural that we want support this by playing our part as Baptists Together, in assisting with the important task of ensuring that these along with other offers of help are appropriately developed and co-ordinated. Citizens UK have provided us with an opportunity to work with a broad spectrum of partner organisations in a cause that reflects our own Kingdom-rooted values.'
The Revd Phil Jump, a Baptist member of the Joint Public Issues Team added, 'We recognise the breadth of reactions to the current refugee crisis, but I suggest that no-one would argue that wherever help and support is forthcoming, it needs to be carefully and properly managed.
'There is a clear need for a politically-neutral, properly recognised body that can draw together the resources, expertise and support networks that are currently being offered.
'I hope that Baptists across the UK will want to join in the call for such a body to be established as a matter of urgency.'
Juliet Kilpin echoed the call. She said, 'Unprecedented circumstances provoke unprecedented responses and as many Baptists (and others) are confronted by the greatest movement of people across Europe since World War 2, along with our offers of hospitality, we call on the government to set up a National Welcome and Resettlement Board to acknowledge and facilitate this British generosity and welcome.'
Please contact your MPs to call for a National Refugee Welcome and Resettlement Board.