Statement by Rev John Clifford, President and the Executive Committee of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
21 September 2015
“The refugee crisis is the greatest moral as well as social and political issue facing Europe at this time. We have watched with increasing shock and horror desperate people seeking refuge on our continent as they escape intolerable living conditions as a result of war or oppressive political regimes. The moral imperative is to respond with compassion to the stranger in our midst. I recognise that there are no easy answers to this crisis and that it will require sacrifice on our behalf. I believe that Unitarians and Free Christians will rise to this challenge.
Unitarians, in co-operation with other faith groups, have a history of responding to refugees in need both practically and politically. In 1933 the General Assembly condemned the treatment of the Jews by the German Government and its agents as an offence against common human nature. By 1938 the prominent Unitarian Minister, Rosalind Lee was working in Prague, with the assistance for a time of Rev John McLachlan, to support Jewish, Czech and Austrian refugees fleeing Nazis tyranny. British Unitarian families welcomed into their homes children on the Kinder transport from Prague. Previously Unitarians had also supported the Basque Children’s Committee to bring children fleeing the Spanish Civil War to Britain.
Today we face a similar crisis. I am aware that some of our Unitarian congregations have already responded to the meet the practical needs of refugees. Mill Hill Chapel in Leeds and Bridport Unitarian Chapel, for example, are collecting donations of supplies and other aid for refugees and several congregations assist with community efforts to assist refugees already in Britain.
The General Assembly Executive Committee has agreed that all funds donated via the Unitarian Churches Clara Barton Appeal for the British Red Cross will be allocated with immediate effect to their Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal. If congregations and individuals wish to donate online please go to the Virgin Money Giving page or send cheques to:
Cheques should be made payable to British Red Cross with 'Unitarian Churches Clara Barton Appeal' clearly marked on the back.
I would thank everyone in advance for their generosity and for their commitment to affirming the oneness of humankind.”
Messages from the Unitarian Churches in Hungary and Germany
The Unitarian Churches in Germany and Hungary are supporting “on the ground” initiatives in their own country and would welcome financial support.
“The Hungarian Interchurch Aid is participating in the following relief work: psychosocial services for children, providing assistance to reception centres in the form of children’s clothing and toys, diapers, baby food, blankets, towels, non-perishable food and hygienic items, etc.to make migrants’ conditions more humane. If you are able or willing to support these charity services, please send us your donations. We have set a special agreement with the Hungarian Interchurch Aid to transfer this help to their refugee projects.”
Donations may be sent via ICUU or directly to the Hungarian Church account.
“The arriving refugees suffer from extremely traumatic experiences. Rejection, physical abuse and death were and still are permanent companions. They need clothing, transportation, nutrition due to their situation, medication, support to understand language and culture as well as comfort and encouragement.” German Unitarians are responding.
Donations should be sent to: