Migration changes ecclesial landscapes

Migration changes ecclesial landscapes

WCC conference on migration

How is migration changing the world’s ecclesial landscapes? What are these changes, and how do they impact migrant communities? What can churches do to promote acceptance of diversity and devise new answers to the theological question, “Who is my neighbour?” in an increasingly globalized world.

A three-day World Council of Churches (WCC) regional conference in Beirut, Lebanon explored these questions, gathering narratives of the enriching experiences of thirty participants from Africa, Europe and the Middle East, representing churches, ecumenical organizations and non-governmental activist groups.

The conference was organized by the WCC programme on Just and Inclusive Communities, and hosted by the Middle East Council of Churches at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut from December 5-7.

Participants from Africa reflected on how migration is not a new phenomenon, but has always been present, with people on the move for their livelihood. It was also noted that in Africa internal migration has outnumbered external migration.

Presenters pointed out poverty, unemployment and conflict as the major reasons behind mass migration, which is taking place in Africa and beyond. With these challenges, they said, the theology of welcoming and loving one’s neighbour becomes more crucial than ever before.

The dynamics of the “Arab Spring” and its impact on migration in the Middle East brought some significant revelations. Presenters from the region as well as the hosts shared their views about the complexity of political developments, due to which many people are choosing to migrate.

Amidst the current wave of migration, where people are fleeing political turmoil, conflict and persecution, promoting respect for religious minorities and initiating meaningful interreligious dialogue is especially pertinent, according to the participants.

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