Refugee crisis: Churches in other LWF regions express solidarity with Europe

Refugee family with caretaker, left, at the refugee home Rossauer Lände, Austria. Photo: Diakonie Refugee Service Austria/ Nadja Meister
Refugee family with caretaker, left, at the refugee home Rossauer Lände, Austria. Photo: Diakonie Refugee Service Austria/ Nadja Meister

Prayers for safety, advocacy for additional support

GENEVA, 15 September 2015 (LWI)—The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches outside Europe are expressing their solidarity with churches receiving refugees in the region through ongoing prayers, additional financial support and advocacy to governments.

In a 9 September alert to its members the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, emphasized the church’s calling and commitment to meet basic humanitarian needs and uphold the rights of people fleeing war and crisis.

“We are also in communication with our church companions in Germany, as they receive tens of thousands of refugees,” Rev. Daniel Rift, director of ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal wrote to the church’s members. The ELCA has been supporting the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary and the Slovak Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Serbia, both of which have been welcoming refugees entering through their borders, and providing them with food and other materials.

Earlier this month, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton called upon congregation members to be in prayerful solidarity as the “horrendous consequences of a refugee crisis in the Middle East” crossed overflowed into Europe.

In Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and its humanitarian agency, Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) issued an appeal, 15 September, asking their members for prayers and support to assist Syrian refugees who have been “displaced by brutal violence in their country.”

“We pray for their safety and access to shelter and basic necessities. I urge our members to assist with financial contributions to the appeal and help support our sisters and brothers,” ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson said.

The ELCIC and CLWR said donations made between 12 September and 31 December 2015 will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Canadian government through its Syria Emergency Relief Fund.

In Argentina, Rev. Gustavo Gómez, president of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church, has expressed deep concern for the increasing number of persons seeking to survive and thus moving towards Europe. Receiving refugees “is a call to engage in commitment,” said Gómez whose church has received migrants in the past. He described the act of welcoming others as “renewal in service and active love” as there is room to be enriched by the arrival of different cultures. Other churches in the region have offered prayers.

LWF member churches in Africa and Asia, some of which have also been touched by deaths of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe are remembering the European churches in prayers as they seek other ways to offer additional support.