Faith leaders call for revised refugee policy

 

rowan-williams

More than 200 leaders of faith communities have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, Theresa May calling for urgent changes to the government’s refugee policy, particularly to allow families to be reunited.

The signatories are headed by Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, who will give a speech on Monday in front of an audience of faith leaders and refugees to reiterate the letter’s demands.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the former lord justice of appeal, has added her name to the letter, which is also signed by leaders and representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities.

The interfaith letter follows similar initiatives by 350 judges and lawyers, who wrote to the then prime minister, David Cameron, last October; 120 senior economists in January; and 27 humanitarian and refugee organisations, also in January.

Church in CAR gives shelter to Muslims fleeing Christian militia

central-african-republic-priest-xavier-fagba-said-he-will-not-turn-away-muslims-or-christians-seeking-refuge-from-the-fighting-within-his-church

A Christian church in the Central African Republic is currently providing shelter to a group of 700 Muslims, who are attempting to flee the vengeful “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) Christian militia.

For months, violence between Christians and Muslims has ravaged the country, leaving more than 1 million displaced from their homes. Following a series of atrocities committed by the Muslim Seleka rebel group targeting Christian communities, Christian “anti-balaka” militias have undertaken retribution attacks against Muslims in the country.

The pastor of the church in the city of Boali, which is currently being guarded by about 70 French troops, however, wants an end to the violence.  He told France 24 news,

“I am not going to let anyone hurt the people inside my church, it doesn’t matter whether they are Christians or Muslims,”

and encouraged his congregation to greet their Muslim neighbors with a “kiss of peace.”

Church and local officials are working on an evacuation plan for the Muslim families taking shelter at the church.

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot Reflects on “Christian” Music

Switchfoot

Lead singer Jon Foreman was asked if Switchfoot is a “Christian” band.  His response is worth pondering.

“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds.

The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.

Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music.

None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me.

I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that.

We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.”

Via the Christ the King Church blog

Greetings to the Muslim Community

I’m delighted to join with other Christians in giving greetings to the Muslim Community on the feast of ‘Id ul-Fitr (Eid).  A group of UK church leaders will be formally meeting with the Muslim community on Friday at 12 noon at the East London Mosque to pass the greeting on.

The full greeting reads:

‘Id Greetings
9 August 2013

The Christian churches send greetings of peace and prayers for God’s blessing on our Muslim neighbours on the occasion of ‘Id ul-Fitr (Eid). We recognise this as a day of good news and celebration – the fast has been completed and the feast begins!

We have been encouraged by two key initiatives this Ramadan – the ‘Big Iftar’ and Channel 4’s Ramadan Season. These have enabled many people to experience the hospitality of UK Muslims in mosques around the country as well as raising awareness positively of the meaning of Ramadan.

As representatives of the main Christian traditions in the UK we assure you of our goodwill towards you, and our commitment to peace and justice in the society that we share together. Aware of the recent attacks on mosques and Muslims, we want to stand with you against any discrimination or violence targeting any community or person because of their faith. Instead, we want to work for more positive interaction between Christians and Muslims, demonstrating the love for God and neighbour to which we are called.

‘Id Mubarak!”

List of signatories:

  • Baptist Union of Great Britain
  • Church of England
  • Mar Thoma Church
  • Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
  • Quakers in Britain
  • The Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain (of the Oecumenical Patriarchate)
  • The Church in Wales
  • The Church of Scotland
  • The Council of African and Caribbean Churches
  • The Methodist Church
  • The Moravian Church in Great Britain
  • The Salvation Army
  • The United Reformed Church

This greeting is supported by the Christian Muslim Forum and has been facilitated by Churches Together in Britain & Ireland and Churches Together in England

Every effort has been made to invite as many churches as possible to endorse this statement. However, due to the holiday season it has not proved possible to contact every church. The absence of the name of a particular church does not imply in any way that they have declined to endorse this statement.

After Jesus, who is the best Christian ever?

Ian Morgan Cron says St Francis. What say you?

Who, in your estimation wins the all-time, “most incredible Christian in history” prize?

Call me crazy, but I vote for the guy who holds birdbaths up in people’s gardens—St Francis of Assisi.

I knew zero about St Francis until I went through a spiritual crisis a few years ago. I was burnt out on ministry, disillusioned with church, fed up with evangelical subculture, and tired of not being able to voice my spiritual doubts and questions without being labeled a ‘backslider.’

At the height of my faith meltdown a friend invited me to visit him at his home in Bermuda to pray about whether to remain in ministry or not. While packing I saw an unread copy of G.K. Chesterton’s St Francis of Assisi on my bookshelf, and without thinking I threw it in my bag.

Cron focuses on five features:

Extravagant love for the poor, peacemaking, love for creation, contemplative spirituality, and rebuild my church.