From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS3276 Churches' unity services treasure refugees

From "Anglican Communion News Service" <>
Date Wed, 22 Jan 2003 22:53:11 -0000

ACNS 3276     |     ENGLAND	|     23 JANUARY 2003

Churches' unity services treasure refugees

During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18 to 25 January) millions
of Christians throughout the world will be offering prayers for the unity of
the Church and the unity of all people who are made in God's image. In
praying for the unity of the Church, Christians are reminded of their duty
to pray for the unity of all people who are made in God's image. This year,
prayers will be centred around a text from 2 Corinthians, chosen by
Christians in Argentina who assert that the 'treasure in clay jars' - the
glory of Christ - is a gift from God to strengthen all who are suffering or
sad. They firmly believe that Christians have a responsibility to share the
light of Christ and welcome strangers into their midst.

In making this choice the Churches in Argentina were guided by their
reflection on the fact that Argentina is a nation built up by native peoples
and immigrants. Here, the resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian
Unity, published by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) carry
the same clear message: Churches have an obligation to welcome asylum
seekers and refugees and be enriched by their lives and gifts.

At a time when Christians in Britain are expressing concern about the
withdrawal of support from some asylum applicants, these prayers will have a
particular poignancy. New measures just brought into force under the
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act mean that people arriving in Britain
will have to claim asylum immediately or lose state support. Currently sixty
per cent of refugees do not claim asylum immediately.

"We are not asking for an unlimited flow of asylum seekers to this country
but what we are asking is that they should be treated with compassion and
dignity as their claims are being considered," says the Revd Jean Mayland,
CTBI's Coordinating Secretary for Church Life.

"All asylum seekers are made in God's image and should be treated as such.
We also need to remember the treasures they bring in their insights and
skills," she said.

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the Abbe Couturier,
the priest from Lyons who was a great advocate of the Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity. In 1908, Paul Watson proposed a 'church unity octave'
between the feasts of St Peter (18 January) and St Paul (25 January). This
was broadened by Abbe Paul Couturier's call in 1935 for a universal Week of
Prayer for Unity, a unity to be achieved 'as Christ wishes and by the means
which he desires'. Today, resources for the Week are used in 72 countries.

The ACNSlist is published by the Anglican Communion Office, London.

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