Belonging(s)? Migration in theological perspective

By staff writers
August 4, 2013

'Belonging(s)? Migration in theological perspective' is the title of a consultation to be held on 31 August 2013 from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM in Berne, Switzerland, under the auspices of the World Council of Churches.

Restrictions in immigration and asylum laws, the practices of forced repatriation, the construction of minarets or measures for the integration of immigrants are highly debated in politics, churches and society at large.

Why are these debates so controversial? The reason appears to be that they also touch upon the issue of belonging. Belonging is commonly associated with a familiar place, where one feels safe and comfortable, and where one can experience community. The opposite of belonging is estrangement.

The church today is confronted with migration issues as they affect its own members and the society in which it acts. The biblical message calls it to accompany people in their quest of and in their fears of the loss of belonging.

The church addresses migration primarily in diaconal and social-political perspectives. However, this commitment, and migration issues as a whole, have until now been only scarcely reflected upon from a theological viewpoint. This conference offers the opportunity for such a reflection.

Keynote speeches will be offered by Dr Amélé Adamavi-Aho Ekué, professor of social ethics at the WCC's Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, and Dr Reinhold Bernhardt, professor of systematic theology at the University of Basel, with responses by the Rev Antoinette Steiner, chaplain at the Vallorbe Centre for Asylum Application Registry and Processing, and the Rev Andreas Nufer, pastor in Berne.

Seven workshops will enable participants to delve deeper into one of the following topics:

* The Bible and ethics of migration
* On the richness of the stranger/strangeness
* The church as home for all Christians
* The stranger – our shadow
* Conflict and reconciliation in the multicultural society
* Towards a theology of migration from a practical perspective
* Pastoral care in asylum reception and detention centres

The conference languages are German and French. It is co-organised by the World Council of Churches, the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches and the Reformed Churches in Bern-Jura-Solothurn.

* WCC:

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