Ecumenical News International

"Culture of welcome" for refugees needed

October 29, 2014

Detmold (epd). Dietmar Arends, superintendent of the Church of Lippe, has called for a culture of welcome for refugees. Again and again we see that immediately after the announcement of new accommodation for refugees, people start helping them when they arrive, Arends said on Monday in his report to the Lippe Synode in Detmold. They are "part of a culture of welcome that we urgently need." He called it "intolerable" that people who sought refuge in Germany had been mistreated in refugee residential centers.

It was cause for criticism, he said, that although the strongly rising numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers had been known for a long time, the country was not adequately prepared. Churches and welfare organizations had pointed to the upcoming problems very early. While the number of refugees in Germany was clearly rising it had been falling for years. Germany was still far from the high numbers of the early 1990s, Arends stressed.

The Lippe superintendent praised the convening of the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) refugee summit and the assistance agreed by the participants. The NRW government intends to raise the flat rate made available to the cities to cover costs from currently EUR 143 million to EUR 183 million. The Church of Lippe also wants the budget for its refugee work to be topped up by EUR 45,000 to EUR 96,000 in the coming year.

Ahrends said he was shocked at the attack by Islamists a week ago on two places of worship of his church's Reformed partner church in northern Nigeria. 19 church members had been killed, he reported. The Church of Lippe had expressed its solidarity to the congregations. It endorsed its partner church's appeal to the Nigerian government to make a greater effort to bring about peaceful coexistence among the religions.

The Lippe synod is in session until Tuesday in Detmold. It is the highest decision-making body with about 172,000 Protestants. It is the third smallest of the 20 Protestant regional churches.



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