On 7 December, London’s Church Leaders launched a new campaign in response to the ongoing refugee crisis, and following continued reports of intolerance and heightened tension in the wake of the EU Referendum. #LondonUnited encourages churches representing the capital’s different Christian dominations to showcase their community work, particularly in response to the needs of refugees, asylum seekers and destitute migrants. Throughout the run-up to Christmas, churches will be encouraged to share their stories of community cohesion in London, using the hashtag #LondonUnited on social media.
At the St Nicholas Day London Church Leaders meeting, senior Christian leaders expressed their grave concerns about not only the scale of the refugee crisis, but also the rise in racial tensions that have accompanied the recent vote to leave the European Union. The Leaders affirmed their support for the Declaration agreed by the Faith and Community Assembly, opened by Mayor Sadiq Khan in October, celebrating diversity in the capital.
They stated their collective desire to celebrate the capital’s status as the most diverse city in the world and its role as a beacon of racial harmony through what is hoped will be a mass display of fellowship and collective responsibility that transcends religion, race and ethnicity.
In their statement the Leaders explained: ‘In the lead-up to Christmas, in recognition and celebration of our collective responsibility, we have agreed to launch an initiative via social media under the banner of #LondonUnited, to share stories of London communities coming together as neighbours and fellow citizens across all the boundaries of class, religion and ethnicity.’
Cardinal Vincent expressed his support for the initiative: ‘We have a great tradition of welcome in London. The rich diversity of our parishes, schools and neighbourhoods offers a testament to this tradition. As Christians we are called to extend the hand of friendship and support to the those who are most in need. It is in recognising and promoting the inherent dignity of every person that we build a strong society and remain true to our British values.’
Richard Chartres, Bishop of London,who chairs London Church Leaders, added: ‘As a great world-in-a-city, London must be a beacon for the uniting of neighbours across all barriers. As we work together to fight intolerance and address need, we should celebrate the stories of our communities, and the actions of love that support them. In this, our message to future generations of Londoners is one of hope that will not falter, in the face of hatred and injustice.’
London’s Christian leaders will also reach out to London’s other religious communities, asking that they add their support to #LondonUnited in order to transform the campaign into an interfaith initiative representative of all those who live in the capital.