I can’t quite believe that it’s already a month since our marvellous Stories of Welcome event at the beginning of Refugee Week.
The timing was a gift from God. Working with my friends and colleagues in the Diocese of London and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, we decided at the beginning of 2022 that we wanted to celebrate the role of churches in London and east Surrey in welcoming refugees and migrants. We couldn’t possibly have known then that the week before our chosen date would be the week the Home Office chose to try to transfer a number of asylum seekers to Rwanda and that therefore the right to seek asylum in the UK would be at the top of the news agenda.
- L-R The Rt Rev Paul McAleenan, Auxilliary Bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster; The Rt Revd Dr Joanne Woodway Grenfell, Bishop of Stepney; Maimuna Jowa and Bishop Christopher
The event was hosted by the Jesuit Community at the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception at Farm Street, and was well-attended by refugees, migrants and volunteers from across the 3 Dioceses. We were hugely privileged to hear keynote addresses from 3 Bishops, including our own Bishop Christopher, as well as hearing a passionate and challenging speech from Maimuna Jawo about her experiences in the asylum system.
If you missed the event, it’s not too late to get involved. You can find all the resources on our Refugees webpage, including the Stories of Welcome booklet, a new infographic, and video stories from the three Dioceses. There are all kinds of ways in which churches can welcome and support new arrivals, and these materials are full of different stories and ways in which church communities have honoured our calling to love one another as God loves us (John 13:34).