The Churches Together in England Forum is the broadest gathering of churches and Christian organisations in England, bringing together 52 national member churches, Christian organisations and intermediate ecumenical bodies. Meeting at The Hayes, Swanwick on 14 – 16 March 2022, the Ukrainian crisis was an urgent priority alongside its planned programme considering ‘Reconciling Hope — A Broken Church for a Broken World.’ The Presidents of CTE and the Fourth Presidency Group issued two statements on behalf of the whole of Forum.
Concerning the ongoing conflict
‘As 300 delegates from 52 national Member Churches, numerous Christian organisations and ecumenical bodies from across England, we call for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of invading forces and the observance of the Geneva Conventions. In this holy season of Lent, we call upon churches everywhere to campaign for an immediate end to the war in Ukraine, and to proclaim the dignity of every human life, whatever its nationality.
We welcome and commend the extraordinary efforts of countries neighbouring Ukraine in receiving refugees from the war and call on the UK and the whole of Europe to follow their example. We support every measure to protect the most vulnerable. We commit ourselves to pray for the nations of Russia and Ukraine, our own Government and people, and for all who find themselves refugees, or bereaved, wounded or destitute. May Christ have mercy upon our world.’
Concerning Ukrainian refugees
‘Gathered at Churches Together in England’s Forum on 16 March, delegates from its 52 national member churches, Christian organisations and ecumenical bodies recognise the enormity of the Ukrainian refugee crisis and call upon Her Majesty’s Government to do all it can to develop programmes of refuge for those fleeing Ukraine that are both just and effective. We welcome changes recently announced to a complex and slow visa application system, thus easing the ways in which Ukrainian refugees can be given sanctuary, and urge the swiftest implementation of this system.
We embrace the role churches can play as communities of faith offering welcome, homes and compassion to those who have fled war, and encourage churches to take up opportunities to sponsor refugee families.
While we recognise the huge challenges facing those countries bordering Ukraine, in which refugees first arrive, and call for a fair sharing of this burden throughout Europe, we deplore the discrimination against African and Asian people and those of religious minorities fleeing Ukraine, and call for every nation receiving refugees to treat all with equal care and dignity. We also recognise, with shame, the slowness to welcome Afghan refugees who are already in Britain, often remaining housed in bed and breakfast
Refugees come from many nations in conflict, and we pray that Britain might become a society where strangers find a welcome, whatever their origin. We urge Her Majesty’s Government to consider amendments to the UK Borders and Nationality Bill. Jesus himself was a child refugee, and in the stranger we can recognise Christ coming amongst us. The churches should act with compassion, but they can also pray, and just as we have committed ourselves to pray for peace and for the victims of war, we also pray for those who are refugees and for those housing and caring for them.’