The London Church Leaders, senior church leaders of different Christian denominations across London, issued the following statement calling on all in society to seek to promote reconciliation and unity, and to work to promote community cohesion, following a meeting on 24th January, during Christian Unity Week 2019.
We represent Christians with a variety of opinions and experiences in relation to the current uncertainties facing our city and our nation. We speak as those who have listened to the membership of our own organisations, as well as those of all faiths and none within the communities we serve. We celebrate the diversity of London, and not least how EU Citizens are a gift and a blessing to our churches and our capital.
The Divisiveness of the Debate: It is inevitable that the withdrawal of the UK from the EU should evoke high emotions and passionate debate. However, we are concerned that the manner and tone of some of the debate is widening divisions in our country, including in London where 59.93% voted Remain and 40.07% voted Leave.
We therefore call on politicians, the media and all in positions of influence to consider carefully how they contribute to this debate and how we can all seek to promote reconciliation and unity whatever the future of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union.
Protection of EU citizens: There is understandable uncertainty, insecurity & fear among EU citizens, many of whom worship in our congregations, about their future in the UK.
We are committed to working together across our churches to provide support for EU Citizens seeking Settled Status, alongside promoting what we are already doing to foster community cohesion.
We call on all with the ability to do so to support these EU citizens, and we join with the Mayor of London and others in celebrating EU Citizens and the contribution they make to our common life in London, not least to the health and social care sector.
The Rise in Hate Crime: Since the referendum we have seen a rise in hate crime and an increase in those actively using hate speech on our streets. We must learn from the experience of the Windrush Generation, and avoid creating a climate of fear and insecurity for minority ethnic people in the UK.
We therefore call on all in society to increase our efforts to promote community cohesion and tackle hate speech and hate crime. We especially stand with minority faith communities impacted by the rise in anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other faith discrimination. We will continue our own extensive work in bringing people together across difference.
Neglect of other Social Issues: Brexit is rightly taking up a great deal of Parliamentary time and national discussion. At the same time, we are troubled that other social issues are not getting the attention they deserve, not least those affecting the most vulnerable in society. We draw attention to the rise in homelessness in London and the increased use of foodbanks. We are also concerned and actively working to address serious youth violence across London. We are concerned about the potential for social unrest unless we have a clear sense of hope and unity for our common future.
We therefore call for urgent action on tackling poverty and social discontent in London and elsewhere in the UK and commit to continuing our work to address these issues.
London Church Leaders