12 February 2024

Rwanda, We the People... disagree

With growing frustration at the Prime Minister referring to plans to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda as being “The Will of the People”; Hurst Methodist Church in Kingsley, Cheshire has decided to challenge the government’s rhetoric.

Hurst Methodist has been raising money to help the migrants being supported at the nearby Halton Trinity Chapel in Runcorn. “Some of us felt a deep sense of unease about the policy towards refugees. We were also concerned by the phrase used by the Prime Minister that they were pursuing 'The Will of the People',” says John Leach, Treasurer at Hurst Methodist. “Following discussions with others, it turns out that there were many who shared the view that the way migrants are discussed is unchristian and uncharitable.

“We put a proposal forward to our church council that we should write to the Prime Minister expressing our concerns about the policy and the language, and everyone supported it. Everybody.” continued John.
 
“The letter went through a couple of drafts before we sent it off to the Prime Minister, copying in Mike Amesbury - the MP for Weaver Vale, Tom Pursglove MP, Minister for Legal Immigration, and Michael Tomlinson MP, Minister for Illegal Immigration.”

The text of the letter -

We “The People” who are members of the Hurst Methodist Church, Kingsley, Cheshire object to your assertion that in enacting the ‘Rwanda Bill’ you are pursuing “The will of the people”. In respect of ourselves it is untrue.
Today at our Church Council we have adopted, unanimously, the following memorandum of which we trust you will take note.

“We, members of the Hurst Methodist Church in Kingsley, Cheshire are dismayed that the many and frequent statements from our Christian leaders demanding a change of direction in respect of immigration policy have been ignored.

It is our opinion that current policies are callous and cruel. They betray all Christian principles that form our country’s traditional values and of which we have been justly proud.

In a world of war and climate change it is necessary to cooperate internationally to find solutions that are compassionate and just. Disregarding human rights and denying agreed international conventions that we have signed up to, disgraces this government and shames us, in whose name they act.”

The Church Council
Hurst Methodist Church
Kingsley, Cheshire

“I very much hope other churches consider a similar letter if they too feel moved by the way our politicians talk about migrants,” continues John.  “It is time that ‘The People’ in our churches find a voice and express their opposition and support of what so many Christian leaders have already said.

When the Rwanda policy was announced, the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference commented that “People are not a problem to be dealt with, but are individuals with inherent value and dignity made in the image of God. Sending some of the most vulnerable people in the world thousands of miles away to be imprisoned does not respect this dignity.”

The Methodist Church recently added its support to a statement calling on parliamentarians to reject the current Safety of Rwanda Bill, on the grounds that it threatens the universality of human rights and is likely in breach of international law.

As part of the Methodist Church’s recent reaffirmation of its commitment to be a justice-seeking Church, seeking justice for refugees has been identified as one of five priorities for the Church. You can find resources on campaigning and contacting your MP on the website of the Joint Public Issues Team.

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