London Church Leaders unite with Deputy Mayor to combat intolerance
London’s Church Leaders today launch a new campaign in response to the ongoing refugee crisis, and following continued reports of intolerance and heightened tension in the wake of the EU Referendum. #LondonUnited encourages churches representing the capital’s different Christian dominations to showcase their community work, particularly in response to the needs of refugees, asylum seekers and destitute migrants. Throughout the run-up to Christmas, churches will be sharing their stories of community cohesion in London, using the hashtag #LondonUnited on social media.
At the St Nicholas Day London Church Leaders meeting, senior Christian leaders expressed their grave concerns about not only the scale of the refugee crisis, but also the rise in racial tensions that have accompanied the recent vote to leave the European Union. The Leaders affirmed their support for the Declaration agreed by the Faith and Community Assembly, opened by Mayor Sadiq Khan in October, celebrating diversity in the capital.
The London Church Leaders meeting was addressed by guest speaker Matthew Ryder, the Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Mobility and Community Engagement,who was recently appointed by the Mayor to help improve integration amongst the capital’s many different communities, and he has added City Hall’s support for #LondonUnited.
The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, who chairs London Church Leaders, said:
“As a great world-in-a-city, London must be a beacon for the uniting of neighbours across all barriers. As we work together to fight intolerance and address need, we should celebrate the stories of our communities, and the actions of love that support them. In this, our message to future generations of Londoners is one of hope that will not falter, in the face of hatred and injustice.”
Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Mobility and Community Engagement said:
“London has a proud history of welcoming refugees and migrants from all over the world. There is so much goodwill amongst local authorities, individuals and organisations to support refugees who may have experienced unspeakable suffering to rebuild their lives here in the Capital. London Church Leaders’ response to supporting refugees in London is an example of the work being done by clergy, congregations and other faith based organisations to house and support those refugees who have fled to London. I was delighted to help launch #LondonUnited, which highlights the importance of encouraging people to connect with each other as friends, neighbours and citizens, providing support to those who need it.”
London Church Leaders agreed that #LondonUnited should challenge the social divisions that have appeared in recent months, with certain parts of London’s minority communities being targeted for abuse and harassment. They stated their collective desire to celebrate the capital’s status as the most diverse city in the world and its role as a beacon of racial harmony through what is hoped will be a mass display of fellowship and collective responsibility that transcends religion, race and ethnicity. Former MP, Sarah Teather (Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service), John Perumbalath (Archdeacon of Barking and Chair of the London Churches Refugee Network), and Angela Afzal (Refugee Response Coordinator at Capital Mass) also addressed the meeting. London Church Leaders heard of the partnership Capital Mass has established with Housing Justice to provide temporary accommodation for London’s destitute migrants and refugees, while their cases are being addressed, and also about the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service in advocating the rights of those asylum seekers who are detained under the immigration rules or who are left destitute and without opportunities in the UK.
#LondonUnited has been launched today by London’s Christian leaders who will also reach out to London’s other religious communities, asking that they add their support to #LondonUnited in order to transform the campaign into an interfaith initiative representative of all those who live in the capital.
Q&A for churches wanting to get involved
#LondonUnited is for anyone who feels a sense of belonging in London and an impulse to welcome strangers as neighbours. Our aim is to project a picture of churches at the heart of modern, diverse and inclusive London, open and welcoming to all. Find out how to get involved.
St Nicholas Day Initiative – London Church Leaders
London Church Leaders have issued the following today, following their meeting:
We as London Church Leaders met to share our grave concerns about the growing refugee crisis. Reports of harassment and abuse, connected to heightened tensions around the subject of immigration, have occurred across the capital in recent months. Eastern European communities appear to have been particularly targeted, in the wake of the EU Referendum.
London is the most diverse city in the world and in the future will either be a beacon of racial harmony, or a dreadful warning. The Mayor and the Metropolitan Police are playing an important role, but it is the responsibility of every citizen to stand up for the tolerance which makes London such a creative place to live.
In the lead-up to Christmas, in recognition and celebration of our collective responsibility, we have agreed to launch an initiative via social media under the banner of #LondonUnited, to share stories of London communities coming together as neighbours and fellow citizens across all the boundaries of class, religion and ethnicity.
- The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres (Bishop of London & Chair of London Church Leaders)
- Cardinal Vincent Nichols (Archbishop of Westminster)
- The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun (Bishop of Southwark)
- The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell (Bishop of Chelmsford)
- The Rt Revd James Langstaff (Bishop of Rochester)
- The Rt Revd Adrian Newman (Bishop of Stepney)
- The Rt Revd Richard Cheetham (Bishop of Kingston)
- The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark (Bishop of Croydon)
- The Rt Revd Peter Hill (Bishop of Barking)
- The Rt Revd Paul Hendricks (Auxiliary RC Bishop in Southwark)
- The Rt Revd Nicholas Hudson (Auxiliary RC Bishop in Westminster)
- Fr Alexander Master (Private Secretary to the Cardinal)
- Rev Msgr Kevin Hale (RC Vicar General of Brentwood)
- The Most Revd Peter Smith (RC Archbishop of Southwark)
- Archbishop Fidelia Onyuku-Opukiri (Council of African and Afro-Caribbean Churches)
- Archbishop Gregorios (Thyateira and Great Britain)
- Ven Paul Wright (Archdeacon of Bromley and Bexley)
- Revd Dr Andrew Prasad (URC Moderator, Thames North Synod)
- Revd Nicola Furley-Smith (URC Moderator, Southern Synod)
- Revd Michaela Youngson (Methodist London District Chair)
- Revd Nigel Cowgill (Methodist London District Chair)
- Revd Phil Barnard (London Baptist Regional Team leader)
- Lieut. Colonel Suzanne Fincham (Salvation Army London Divisional Commander South London)
- Dr Hugh Osgood (Chair of Churches in Communities International)
- Canon Steven Saxby (Executive Officer, London Churches Social Action)