On Saturday 9th of June a workshop on Migration endet in Gwangju | Korea. Delegates from the Presbyterian Church in Ghana (PCG), the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) and from the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau (EKHN) participated in this trilateral workshop of EKHN partner churches. After Accra (2016) and Frankfurt (2017) it was the third trilateral workshop of EKHN Partner Curches on Migration. Their experiences you could follow on the blog www.oekumenischertrialog.blog. The final statement of the workshop you will get if you continue to read.
Integration and a new perspective for the life of migrants need security. The support of migrants in our societies and of our churches should focus more on the concrete situation of those who are vulnerable, to help them find a way of a self-determined and self-confident life in their new homes. In this direction, we need to urge our governments and churches to uphold the human dignity of all people, especially that of migrants. The lessons were clear that when individuals or church or society decide to ignore their responsibilities towards migrants, the devastating results affect the whole society.
After our three consecutive workshops we are once again reminded of the importance of multilateral dialogue as ecumenical partners and the significance of ecumenical learning. Although it was a working group without any executive mandate we were enriched with unforgettable experiences. We strongly feel the need to continue such dialogues with involvement of more partners in order to share those experiences.
The third PCG – PROK – EKHN Workshop on Migration took place in the PROK Presbytery of Gwangju from 5th to 9th June 2018. The main focus of the Workshop was “Women and Families in Migration”.
One of the important insights of the workshop was the acknowledgement of both strength and extreme vulnerability of women and children. The Bible studies on texts on Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-22), Hagar (Gen 16: 6-11) and Ruth ( Ruth 1, 6-18) guided us into a compassionate and deep understanding. In particular the narrative of Tamar compelled us to advocate against cases of sexual abuse and violence against women and children. We discovered, that we and our churches often are blind to the real situations, in which women suffer. Especially the sexual exploitation of women migrants from eastern European countries in Germany and Ghanaian women migrants in the Middle-East are not sufficiently addressed by each respective churches.
We had encounters and sharings with North Korean defectors and marriage migrants, of whom the absolute majority were women. These and our exchanges on undocumented migrants made us aware of their precarious situation and the need of communication with lots of sympathy and understanding. We feel the urgent need to be in solidarity and render our assistance to them.
Being mindful of the essential significance of family and marriage in our societies we regret, that the discussions in each respective political discourse do not meet the need of families, as it does not support family reunion, but rather perpetuates the separation of families, victimizing children. Churches should continue to advocate in support for separated migrant families. The situation for the family members, who were left behind, is unbearable. We affirm that families belong together as an integral and intact institution of the societies in Korea, Ghana, Germany and all over the world.
The second PCG – PROK – EKHN Workshop on Migration took place at Zentrum Oekumene in Frankfurt, Germany from 25th to 29th April 2017. The main focus of the Workshop was “Successful Integration”.
The deliberations and results of the Accra workshop provided the participants with insights of the phenomena of migration and refugees. The complexity of integration being experienced in various places compelled the participants to call upon all parties involved, to collaborate for a successful integration through the following, among others:
- Advocacy work to promote human dignity of refugees and migrants.
- There is a need to strengthen the supportive structures between local congregations and the church leadership.
- There is a need for active (´hot`) communication among migrant communities and local churches.
- There is a need to provide migrants with pastoral care, which is adaptive to their situation.
- There is a need to entrust qualified people with migration background to church ministerial offices with commensurate remuneration.
- Migrants must be encouraged to provide honorary executive services in their respective communities (church board, synod etc.).
- Churches should provide platforms for interaction and exchange among people of diverse backgrounds.
- There is a need to bring together thoughts of all significant role-players to develop guidelines and goals of integration.
- There is a need to encourage migrants and their host communities to appreciate and respect each other´s common values and the practice of mutual cultural borrowing.
As ecumenical partners and representatives of the Presbyterian Church in Ghana (PCG), the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) and the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau (EKHN) we came together for a workshop on the topic “Migration and Refugees” in Accra from 29th March April 3rd 2016. After many years of bilateral exchanges, this trilateral workshop is a new step in our ecumenical relationships.
We experienced our workshop as a valuable place of ecumenical learning and practice. During the workshop the participants got a deeper understanding of the causes of migration, the specific needs of migrants, consequences and aftermath of migration and challenges. With respect we took notice of the different approaches of our churches to improve the situation of migrants and refugees in the respective countries.
From the historical and biblical perspective we see migration as an enriching process for the development of our societies and our Churches. From the beginning migration and Christianity have been closely linked. Our workshop lead us to think about mission in the actual context of migration. It became obvious that the individual churches pursue their own agenda and develop visions on this important issue from their specific situations.
Migrants and in particular refugees are vulnerable in many ways. Our churches are called to respond to the specific dangers. For this reason, we contend, that the churches have a big role in building societies that are human centred, concerned with creation and justice. We recommend to encourage and support all those who are engaged in defence of lives and protection of immigrants and all uprooted people.
During our workshop we realized the potentials of multilateral exchanges. We became aware of the need to cooperate with stakeholders in several countries, to deal with problems like human trafficking or returnees from Germany to Ghana.
As ecumenical partners we commit ourselves to strengthen and concretize the measures through Bible studies, services and common prayers to stimulate a deeper theological reflection in our churches. This includes the development of new models of cooperation with the migrant churches in our countries.
We have to learn, how we can practice a structure of welcome not only, when refugees first come to our countries, but also in our churches day-to-day life. Further we request our Churches to open generously the employment opportunities within the Churches for migrants and to get them involved in issues relating to migration.
The global character of migration and flight demands closer interchurch cooperation. Therefore we recommend to extend our trilateral encounters and programs.