Refugee and asylum Sunday – turning around our own boats

Refugee and asylum Sunday turning around our own boats – St Matthew’s Albury, 9am Sunday 18th June.

This weekend many churches and faith groups will focus on refugees ,detention and asylum demanding the exercise of greater compassion and humanity, but for many the spotlight falls not just on the policies of government and opposition but on all attitudes that marginalise individuals and treat people as outsiders or limit their freedoms and life choices .

St Matthew’s Albury has welcomed refugees as part of our family and given part of our church land for a garden for the Bhutanese community but also champions values of inclusion and welcome for all people

 Australia’s national anthem speaks words of welcome and hospitality that are sometimes difficult to recognise in Border control and detention incurring international condemnation John F Kennedy said that as we express gratitude we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. Failure to do so has meant the demise of much of the churches moral authority and nothing short of a miracle will restore the audience .

Institutional abuse initially lost most of the signal and the recent energy devoted to opposing marriage equality refreshed our social memory on the punishment of divorced people ,attitudes to contraception and abortion ,abandonment of bashed wives to church sanctioned marriage bonds and objections to improving the status and votes for women and has done the rest.It is as though we continue to proclaim an analog message when the world has gone digital.

It is a tragedy to discover that unyielding attitudes of conservative religious organisations have created refugees within faith communities, families and our own society. So when church commentators lecture political policy makers on the treatment of outsiders we hold up a brutal mirror to our own history calling for a reassessment and change of direction The global challenge of refugees is enormous ,but perhaps if our hearts were changed to be more welcoming to those who are different at home we might create policies that express greater humanity internationally recognising that we are all in the same boat.

Archdeacon Peter MacLeod-Miller


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