The Church of Scotland (CofS) recently held its annual General Assembly meeting from May 20-26 in Edinburgh to consider reports from each of the Church’s councils, discuss topics of national and international importance, and make decisions that will shape the course of the Church for the coming years. More than 730 commissioners from across Scotland came to Edinburgh for the General Assembly where they were joined by more than 30 youth delegates and over 150 guests from associated partners and other organizations, including international guests. One of the highlighted topics at this years meeting was Asylum and Refugees, as discussed in the Church and Society Council’s report.
The council’s report spotlighted the current work being done by the Church of Scotland for refugees and asylum seekers both in Scotland and abroad, through connections with international church partners – including here in Hungary. Through Kalunba’s connection to the CofS Scottish Mission congregation in Budapest, they have become involved in our work and have been supporting us for many years now.
During the summer of 2015, when thousands of people were passing through Budapest and the Scottish Mission congregation partnered with Kalunba to set-up an emergency overnight shelter in their sanctuary, it was the Church of Scotland that immediately jumped to our aid and provided the much needed financial support to get things going.
When a CofS delegation visited Budapest in September of 2016 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Scottish Mission, they also took a day to meet with staff and beneficiaries at Kalunba to learn more about our work. Upon their return to Scotland, members of the national church staff held a fundraiser and educational time to teach other employees at the national office about the important work being done for refugees in Hungary.
The Church and Society Council’s report details that, “Internationally, both through the World Mission Council and the International Presbytery, work to support refugees and internally displaced people continues through grant giving and practical support where the Church of Scotland has a presence or close partners on the ground, including in Italy, Belgium, Hungary and Malta.” Their report goes on to call upon the CofS to, “Encourage congregations and church members to take part in opportunities for encounter and learning with asylum seekers and refugees,” and “Acknowledge the generosity of many congregations in donating aid and money to support refugees.” The report also calls upon the UK government to do things such as increase the target number of individuals to be resettled under refugee humanitarian programs; allow individuals resettled through community sponsorship to be counted in addition to, rather than as part of, its target number for refugee resettlement; and extend its strategic framework for refugee integration and ensure the participation of the church at a local and national level.
Kalunba is proud to have a strong relationship not only with the local Scottish Mission congregation in Budapest, but also with the wider national body of the Church of Scotland. Their support, symbolically, financially, and personally has had a huge impact over the years and we were thrilled to read their report detailing their work for asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland and beyond.
Article by Kearstin Bailey
Photo and video via the Church of Scotland