Around 214 million people in the world are on the move, seeking livelihood and security outside their home countries.
To address this global phenomenon of multi-directional migration, and respond to the political, economic, ethical and ecclesiological challenges it poses, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is organising a regional conference in Lebanon from 5-7 December 2011.
Migration activists, leaders of migrant churches and representatives of ecumenical organisations from Africa, Europe and the Middle East will gather in Beirut to discern new directions in supporting migrants by taking account of the emerging challenges and opportunities.
'Migration and the Ecclesial Landscape: Who is my Neighbour?' is the theme of this regional conference, organised by the WCC office of Just and Inclusive Communities in partnership with the All Africa Conference of Churches, Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe and the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC). The event will be hosted by the MECC at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut.
While describing objectives of the conference, the Rev Dr Deenabandhu Manchala, WCC programme executive for Just and Inclusive Communities, says: “This event will attempt to assist the churches amidst this phenomenon of increasing diversity of people, cultures, languages, ethnicity and religions. It is our hope that this conference helps us to discern new meanings and implications of being an ecumenical movement.”
“Many churches have been actively responding to a variety of challenges posed by migration today, which includes assisting their new neighbours, welcoming newcomers, striving for their rights, ensuring their safety, and exploring ways of ‘being church together’,” explained Sydia Nduna, WCC programme executive for Migration and Social Justice.
She hopes that the event will reaffirm churches’ significant role in responding to the needs of migrant communities.
The Global Ecumenical Network on Migration conference will focus on Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The event comes after a meeting on Asia and the Gulf region in Bangkok last July, and will be followed by one for the Pacific region, Canada and Latin America to be held in Australia in 2012.
The conference in Beirut will be followed by a theological reflection on the ecclesiological and missiological implications of migration. The outcome of the process will be shared at the upcoming 10th Assembly of the WCC, which will take place in Busan, South Korea in 2013.
Representatives of the WCC Commission on Faith and Order and Commission for World Mission and Evangelism, the network of African women theologians and representatives of the various WCC networks on Just and Inclusive Communities will participate in this process.