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Mapping Report (Autumn 2021)

Executive Summary

The EBF Commission on Migration presents the following report to its member bodies and partners. A previous mapping report conducted by the EBF refugee working group focused on Baptist responses to the refugee crisis of 2015/2016. This new report is based on the findings of a survey sent out in summer 2021 that sought to capture an updated picture of the Baptist response in the EBF region and bring to light thematic areas that will guide the Commission on Migration over the coming years.

The survey revealed that 40% of EBF member bodies continue to work with and alongside displaced peoples across the entire EBF region (roughly 24 of the 59 EBF member bodies). Hundreds of churches are serving in areas of humanitarian aid, advocacy and asylum, and integration and discipleship. Projects are funded primarily through church offerings and donations and enacted by volunteers, pastors, and church leaders. The needs are great and include financial, human resources, and aid materials. Despite sparse resources, Baptists in the EBF region have an astoundingly large impact, serving and working alongside thousands every month.

The report includes a context overview of refugee and migration trends in the past years. There are currently more refugees in the world now than there ever have been and the numbers will likely continue to increase over the coming years. Continued conflicts in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia as well as climate related crises are pushing people to seek safety further north and west. The degrading situation in Afghanistan is chief among many concerns, however, debilitating situations in Lebanon and Ukraine highlight the needs within the EBF region as well. The COVID-19 crisis has limited some ways of response, but spurred on other creative ways of ministering to displaced peoples.

The report showcases the extended reach of the EBF as diverse populations integrate into their new homes in Europe and the Middle East. Christians from Africa, the far Middle East and Asia enrich EBF member body churches with new perspectives. Additionally, as unions, churches, and ministries reach out with hospitality and unconditional aid, displaced peoples are able to communicate back to their home contexts a fuller picture of what Christianity in Europe looks like.

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A Brief Introduction

In the history of the EBF, the theme of refugees and migrants is not new. Reaching out to people on the move and caring for the stranger has long been part of the character of the EBF and Baptist churches across Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia. However, conflicts across the world and the influx of refugees and asylum seekers over the past six years has brought the movement of peoples to the forefront of social, political, and religious conversations. Baptists have and continue to rise to the occasion to welcome and support new neighbours, and advocate for displaced peoples.

When “Mapping The Response to The Refugee and Migrant Crisis in the European Baptist Federation (EBF) Region” was published in 2015 (with updates in 2016), a “crisis” was unfolding as refugees and asylum seekers poured into Europe from nearly every border of the EU. As partners around the world reached out to the EBF for consultation on where support was needed, a survey was necessary to capture a glimpse of what projects were going on where and what needs existed, especially financial. Six years later, while numbers of people coming to Europe have dropped, many of the same needs still exist, and new needs have arisen. Additionally, where refugees had been previously welcomed the temperature has shifted and the welcome has grown tepid (see later in the report for a more extensive update of the broader context of refugee and migration across the EBF region).

EBF structures have changed to adapt to these growing and persistent needs around issues of migration. The EBF refugee working group officially became the EBF Commission on Migration at the Online EBF Council meeting in 2020 and a part-time Coordinator for Migration Issues was hired in March of 2021 (supported in partnership with BMS World Mission). We launched this new mapping exercise to learn an updated view of the ways EBF member bodies and their churches are working with and alongside forcibly displaced peoples (this includes refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced peoples, and economic migrants).

The survey was divided up into different categories of responses: 1. Humanitarian Aid/Relief 2. Asylum and Advocacy and 3. Integration and Discipleship followed by more general questions. The results will help us strengthen the network of Baptist responses to displacement, share resources for best practices, and set the priorities to best serve EBF member bodies and their churches in the coming years.

We want to say a heartfelt thank you to all those individuals who filled out the survey on behalf of their union, church, or ministry, and for those that submitted additional information via email and Zoom conversations. We are thrilled with the response and deeply thankful for the efforts of Baptists across the EBF region. We hope this report will inform, inspire, and spur on EBF member bodies to continue loving the “strangers” among them and stand up for those in need around the world.

Helle Liht (Acting Chair, Estonia)

Will Cumbia (Coordinator for Migration Issues, Austria)

Juliet Kilpin (UK)

Thomas Klammt (Germany)

Daniel Råsberg (Sweden Interact)

Sarah Mhamdi (BMS World Mission)

Victoria Aleksandravisene (Germany / IBC)

Mapping Report Autumn 2021 EBF Commission on Migration
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