- to better inform faith communities and organisations about issues relating to migration, refugees and asylum in UK and Ireland and beyond in Europe and across the world;
- to network together practitioners and
- to encourage and educate through examples of good practice, facts and documented experiences;
- to provide opportunities for practical and prayerful action;
- to confront people of faith with the ongoing challenge of migration and ‘the refugee crisis’ through theological reflection.
Background to Focus on Refugees
In the summer of 2015, we were all shocked with the news reports and images on television and in print of significant numbers of people fleeing from the war in Syria – and other places – and making their way across the water from Turkey and Lebanon towards Greece. The particular image of the young boy Aylan washed ashore seemed to be the tipping point for the world.
One of the CTBI Trustees, Bishop David Hamid, Church of England Bishop in Europe, was deeply aware of the situation migrants and refugees were facing in Calais and Athens as the ministers and chaplains in his care shared with him their deep concerns. With the support of the Churches Commission on Migrants in Europe (CCME), a first visit to Greece was undertaken in September 2015. On our return from that visit, and having consulted with a number of our members, the Trustees took the decision to make this area of work a priority. This is clearly a generational task.
At the AGM earlier this year, Kathy Galloway joined the Trustee board and has taken on specific responsibility for this work. Kathy headed up the visit of 12 women to Greece in May 2016.
Background to Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI)
In 1987, at a meeting in Swanwick, the churches adopted a declaration on Christian unity. It acknowledged that the churches are of different traditions and theologies, but were nonetheless committing themselves to a journey towards full visible unity.
“Churches Together” was the result of this process which replaced the British Council of Churches with bodies that included a broader spread of churches, especially the Roman Catholic Church. Churches Together places the emphasis upon the Churches in pilgrimage together towards full visible unity rather than ecumenical institutions acting and speaking on behalf of the churches.
Churches Together is therefore an ‘instrument’ by which the churches journey towards full visible unity. The Inter Church Process that culminated in the Swanwick Declaration created Churches Together bodies in England, Scotland and Wales which were primarily concerned with local and regional ecumenism.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland was set up to take forward the churches’ ecumenical agenda on a strategic ‘four nations’ basis. It works closely with Action for Churches Together in Scotland, Cytûn (Churches Together in Wales), Churches Together in England and the Irish Council of Churches. CTBI is an expression of the churches’ commitment to work ecumenically across the Four Nations and beyond.
You can find out more about CTBI on their website.