Presbytery Statement on Asylum Seekers

A statement which comes to us from our Presbytery, about asylum seekers. 

"Mr Norman Warren (0418 560 254: margnormwarren@bigpond.com) spoke of the recently established Northern Suburbs Asylum Seeker Network.  It is a network in support of churches and community groups willing to assist asylum seekers to be recognised and supported in their efforts to assimilate into the northern suburbs of Melbourne, as well as those determined by government not to have rights to live in our community yet agree to keep them living under bridging visas while not permitting them the standard of living all Australians take for granted.  We recognise the need Australia-wide and have a responsive ear to other churches and organisations working with asylum seekers with the intention to support and encourage them as a network of like-minded people.

The Rev. Dr Adam McIntosh spoke to the following statement, and it was resolved:

2016/16   To affirm the following statement as a Presbytery and to issue it to all UCA congregations across Port Phillip West Presbytery.

“As many of you are aware, Uniting Church congregations, agencies and schools across Australia are standing in solidarity with 267 people who are seeking refuge in our country. Our highest priority is the welfare and human need of these asylum seekers particularly children. Many church members have joined with people across Australia in a campaign to “let them stay”. The President of the Uniting Church, Stuart McMillan, has issued a pastoral letter calling on prayerful support of the 267 asylum seekers and the “let them stay” campaign.

A number of Uniting Church congregations are also offering their church building as a place of ‘sanctuary’ to these asylum seekers. This includes Uniting Church members across our Presbytery of Port Phillip West. There are also many other ways that church members are supporting asylum seekers across our Presbytery including the asylum seeker network.

The legality of the church building as a place of ‘sanctuary’ is unclear, and the people who have taken this step, do so after much struggle and prayerful reflection.

As the Presbytery of Port Phillip West, we are committed to joining in with God’s mission. This mission includes offering sanctuary, care, protection and hospitality to the persecuted, asylum seekers, our neighbours, prisoners and the marginalized, as we witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ and risk persecution for the sake of the Gospel.

The Presbytery of Port Phillip West stands in solidarity with our Uniting Church members who, as an act of following Jesus, are offering their church building as a sanctuary and supporting asylum seekers in different ways.  We call on Uniting Church members across Port Phillip West to pray for and, if needed, offer practical support to those who are offering sanctuary to asylum seekers across the Presbytery of Port Phillip West.