Global Young Reformers: “How do we welcome the stranger?”

2022 LWF Global Peace Messengers during training in Geneva. Photo: LWF
2022 LWF Global Peace Messengers during training in Geneva. Photo: LWF

“Year of Peace 22” participants discussed how faith informs work with refugees

(LWI) - “What kind of refugee work has been done in our churches?” “How, as a church, do we welcome refugees coming to our communities that have different religious backgrounds?” “As Christians why should we be welcoming?” These are a few of the questions LWF Global Young Reformers (GYR) asked one another and their churches during its third #YearOfPeace22 online gathering 26 June.

In observance of World Refugee Day and Refugee Week this year, the Lutheran World Federation Global Young Reformers from Europe led worship, reflection, and conversation for the whole global network as a part of its Year of Peace series.

“Jesus said to love everyone, all humans are equal in the eyes of God, so it is our responsibility to welcome our neighbor with love and respect,” said participant Alladi Penchalrao of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches of India.

The quarterly gatherings, which are entirely prepared by LWF youth, address what they believe is most pressing in their communities and churches. Participants discussed what it means to be people of faith and peacebuilders who welcome one another - especially migrants and refugees. Fifty-four youth from all 7 LWF regions participated.

“It was fun to learn how Lutheran churches around the world practice welcome. I learned that in some congregations in Tanzania, the entire church gets involved in welcoming newcomers,” said Elsa Matthias of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand.

Jesus said to love everyone, all humans are equal in the eyes of God, so it is our responsibility to welcome our neighbor with love and respect
Alladi Penchalrao of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches of India

Youth leader Mateusz Mendroch and Rev. Marcin Brzóska of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland, gave a presentation on the church’s work with recent refugees to Poland from Ukraine.

Since the Russian military invasion into Ukraine on 24 February 2022, about seven million people have fled the country. Almost three million have found refuge in neighboring Poland.

The two presenters spoke of how the church established small shops to supply the basic needs of refugees and how the church held prayer services in Ukranian in some parishes.

Jakob Voß from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria led a devotion and before closing in prayer, Rev. Veronica Palsson, a Global Young Reformer from the Church of Sweden asked the participants a question, “What are your fears and hopes?”

"Today we heard that these themes of peacebuilding, welcome, and faith apply not only to the contexts of the Young Reformers in Europe who planned the event but are of vital importance in the communities of our LWF Youth across the globe."

"In this gathering youth have heard each other's stories, learned from each other's ideas and perspectives, prayed together, and continue to build solidarity as siblings in Christ," said LWF Program Executive for Youth, Savanna Sullivan.

The online event, which is a part of the LWF Youth’s theme for a “Year of Peace” in 2022 was to create spaces to continue asking questions that began at the online Global Young Reformers Peace on Earth Advent gathering.

By LWF/A.Gray

 

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