New York, NY - June 20, 2013 (World Refugee Day)
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) encourages churches and agencies to embrace “Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders”, a series of affirmations developed at the initiation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in collaboration with leading faith-based humanitarian organizations and academic institutions.1
The affirmations confirm that the call to welcome the stranger and seek his/her protection and welfare is deeply rooted in all major religions, including Christianity. They are intended to serve as a tool to promote and foster support for refugees and other displaced people in the local communities, and also offer common ground for diverse faith-based institutions and humanitarian agencies as they respond to people displaced by humanitarian crisis.
Tom Albinson, WEA Ambassador for Refugees, Displaced and Stateless People, noted that “the affirmations are a helpful tool through which churches and Christian humanitarian agencies can promote the welfare and protection of forcibly displaced people around the world. The spirit of the affirmations reflects the divine expectation of God’s people found in Scripture (e.g. Isaiah 58:6-11, Matthew 25:31-40). It is my hope that Christians around the world will embrace and promote these affirmations within their communities.”
Albinson noted that the affirmations come at a time when the number of forcibly displaced people is on the rise. UNHCR reported this week that with 45.2 million forcibly displaced people in the world at the beginning of 2013, “more people are refugees or internally displaced than at any time since 1994.”2
“These affected people need us to work better together as we seek to help them”, says Albinson. “I welcome the recent initiative of UNHCR to pursue ways of healthy and effective collaboration with local churches and other faith-based organizations in response to growing global refugee crisis. I hope that the Church rises to the occasion, setting an example for others to follow.”
A copy of “Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders” can be downloaded here. It includes English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Hebrew versions.
1Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Chair of the Theological Commission, participated in drafting the affirmations on behalf of the WEA. Other participants were HIAS, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Jesuit Refugee Service, Lutheran World Federation, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Religions for Peace, University of Vienna Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology, World Council of Churches and World Vision International.
2UNHCR, Global Trends Report – Press Release, 19 June 2013.
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Over two billion Christians in the world today are represented by three world church bodies. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of those, serving and representing more than 600 million evangelicals. Launched in 1846 to unite evangelicals worldwide, the WEA continues to be a dynamic movement with 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances, and over 150 member organizations. WEA's mission is to speak as a trusted voice, to equip members and leaders for global impact and to connect its members and others for common action in the furtherance of God’s reign. For more info e-mail at [email protected] or go to Worldea.org.