What do Moravians say about refugees?
Tuesday, June 20th is National Refugee Day. On this day, we may ask the question: what do Moravians say about refugees? In 2016 the Unity Synod of our worldwide Moravian Church met in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Aug. 12-20, 2016 and passed a resolution concerning refugees. About 70 delegates from 26 Unity and Mission Provinces participated, in addition to invited guests, Synod staff and observers. This synod made statements about a number of important, global issues, addressing food speculation, refugees, human trafficking, and terrorism and violent attacks. It is important to take a moment to reflect on each one of these issues, but today we urge you to think about the refugee crisis in the world. All of over the world today, millions suffer as they are forced to flee their homes. International laws states that a refugee “is a person who has fled her country based on a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group”. The 2016 Unity Resolution Concerning Refugees shows us how the Moravian church thinks about this through the context of the Bible and Jesus’s love for humanity.
Copy of Unity Resolution Concerning Refugees
a. Resolution US2016.21: Statement Concerning Refugees
b. Whereas the world is presently confronted with an unprecedented stream of more than 60 million refugees, fleeing their homes because of war, violent conflicts, oppression and great poverty, many of them losing their lives on their way; and
c. Whereas this situation affects many of the countries where the Moravian Church is present; and Whereas the growing number of refugees and migrants in some countries has created a climate of fear, rejection, discrimination and hatred against foreigners – a climate which is being exploited by politicians who call for a closure of borders and who further incite hatred; and
d. Whereas the Bible calls us to offer hospitality to foreigners and to protect refugees; and Whereas our forefathers and mothers were welcomed as refugees in Herrnhut and offered shelter and protection;
e. Be it resolved that the 43rd Unity Synod 2016 accepts the present situation of refugees in the world as a challenge to her witness of the love of Christ to all people. It encourages all provinces with their congregations and institutions to stand by the refugees who seek shelter and protection in their countries. It calls provinces and congregations to clearly speak out against hatred, racism and rejection within their societies and be advocates of those who have neither right nor voice to express their needs. It expresses this in the following statement, which is communicated to all provinces and members:
f. Statement by the 43rd Unity Synod 2016, Montego Bay Take a stand for refugees – a word of encouragement: The Unity Synod in Montego Bay / Jamaica, 12-20 August 2016, is concerned with the present situation of a growing stream of refugees worldwide, having to leave their homes because of war, violence, oppression and harsh poverty. In many countries where the Moravian Church is present, we are affected by this global situation and we experience a growing hostility against refugees and foreigners. We see racial prejudice becoming prevalent again. The Bible calls us to stand up for justice, to be hospitable and to protect the foreigner. Therefore we refuse to go along with those who stir up fear and mislead people to hatred. We refuse to believe that refugees are a threat to our way of life, our cultures and our values. Because we believe in the God of love and justice who sides with the homeless and deprived through Jesus Christ, we encourage our congregations and members in the 15 worldwide Unity to side with the refugees, to lend them their voice, to speak out against hatred and discrimination. We believe that there is a blessing of God in the encounter with the stranger who seeks our protection, our hospitality and friendship. In embracing him we grow in love and in wisdom. In the encounter with people of other faiths we learn to let behind our prejudices and to discover the value of humanity across cultures and religions. We bear in our collective memory that our forefathers and –mothers were welcomed as refugees in Herrnhut – this is paramount to our church. This history challenges us to take a stand and to support refugees wherever we have the chance to do so.