In this week’s prayer email:
- Refugee Week
- Short Notes: Grenfell Tower, Queen’s Speech, Refugee Prayer Points
It’s very appropriate for the Sunday before Refugee Week that the Revised Common Lectionary‘s Old Testament reading is the story of Abraham’s hosting three mysterious strangers, whom Scripture tells us represent a visitation of God. The alacrity and generosity with with the patriarch welcomes his unknown visitors provides a model for ‘welcoming the stranger’. And the immeasurable gift that the visitors give Abraham may prompt us to reflect: is it perhaps also true in human encounters that those who welcome the stranger can find themselves receiving far more than they give?
To encourage churches to celebrate Refugee Week, we are launching a new series of resources for churches that wish to ‘welcome the stranger’ and celebrate both our different pasts and our shared future.
These resources were primarily prepared by Joanna Schüder, who started as CCOW’s Churches Refugee Networking Officer at the beginning of April. Joanna comes to CCOW with a degree in social work and a background of working with refugees both in the United Kingdom and in Germany. She has wide experience in a variety of church contexts and is currently a deacon at Didcot Baptist Church, with particular responsibility for pastoral care. We are delighted to welcome her – and grateful to all whose prayers and donations are making Joanna’s work possible.
Joanna has spent her initial time mapping out what is already available in terms of support and resources. We are now working to make this information accessible and to make connections: a new page on our website shows local groups in the Thames Valley who are working to support refugees, and you can sign up to be connected with those working on refugee support in our area. We’re also attaching to the prayer email the CCOW Guide to Worship Resources – Refugees and Forced Migration: we hope that this will be of use to you for your Refugee Week services next week and more generally. Further materials – including a website section on refugees and migration, more general resource guides and case studies from the groups Joanna is visiting – will be available shortly.
Short Notes: Grenfell Tower, Queen’s Speech, Refugee Prayer Points
- Grenfell TowerWith the rest of the country we pray for all who mourn, all who are injured or traumatised by what they have suffered or seen, and all who have lost their homes or are temporarily displaced. We give thanks for the extraordinary courage and commitment of the emergency services and hospital staff, for the work of people in the community supporting those affected by the fire, and for the generosity of all who have contributed time, goods and money to relieve people’s needs. We pray, too, for a national conversation that looks seriously, soberly and rigorously at the concerns about justice, inequality, and attitudes towards regulation which the fire has raised … and we pray that we may honour those who have suffered by our determination to learn lessons that will prevent such suffering in the future.If you are looking for written prayers, you might wish to use prayer points from people ministering in the area; the Moderators of the United Reformed Church’s General Assembly’s prayer; the prayer from the London District Chairs of the Methodist Church (scroll down); or Bishop David Thomson’s prayer.
- Queen’s SpeechIt is anticipated that there will be a Queen’s Speech on Wednesday.Different members of Government’s thoughts on migration and Brexit have been the subject of much discussion. There were also several Conservative Manifesto statements on aid, trade and energy that have inspired debate, including an apparent willingness to consider unilaterally changing the rules on aid, some quite ambivalent language in statements on renewables, and a strong commitment to shale gas (fracking).Please pray for wisdom, discernment and a commitment to the common good for those who are tasked with drafting the speech and, more generally, Government policies.
- Refugee Prayer Points
There are so many different possibilities for specific prayers of intercession and thanksgiving related to refugees. We’ve noted just a few bullet points here ….
- that Europe may make progress towards rules on ‘safe passage’ so that people will no longer be forced into hazardous voyages
- for justice for those who have been detained in poor conditions on Papua New Guinea and Nauru – and for a fair and just asylum system in Australia
- for those who are suffering abuse in detention centres in Libya – and for an end to the ‘outsourcing’ of borders to areas that are unsafe
- for those who are being involuntarily repatriated to Afghanistan, despite the dangers they face
- in thanksgiving for the gifts and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers
- in thanksgiving for all those who are sponsoring refugees and coming alongside them with support of many different kinds
- in thanksgiving for the work of Christians, Christian agencies and churches to assist refugees, offering a witness to God’s love and receiving the gifts that strangers bring
- in thanksgiving for those countries, like Uganda, which are keeping open their borders for those fleeing conflict. Pray for the Refugee Solidarity Summit this week in Uganda – and more broadly that Uganda and other host countries will receive appropriate support from nations and agencies.
- in thanksgiving for the opportunity to celebrate refugees’ gifts to the UK and other countries in Europe through Refugee Week and through specific initiatives like the Refugee Food Festival