A gesture of solidarity

Posted in News

On Sunday 26 November, a number of Uniting Churches joined faith communities across Australia to stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island following their forced removal from the decommissioned detention centre.

During church services, brothers and sisters of faith paused in prayer for the men on Manus Island, for their safety and security in the days ahead. Members of these churches posed with their arms crossed as a sign of solidarity with the men on Manus, who were transferred to the East Lorengau Transit Centre last Friday despite strong opposition from locals and refugees. This is the same peaceful symbol of protest that the refugees on Manus used during the three weeks in which they remained at the detention centre after its closure.

Common Grace is a non-denominational Christian movement that organised the day of support. On their website Common Grace stated:

“When the Church speaks up for justice, when we stand with those marginalised, when we confront the powers that oppress, we are in sync with the heart of God and the call of Christ to liberate the captives, to set free those in bondage.”

A few of the participating Uniting Church congregations were Pilgrim (Adelaide), Queanbeyan, Hoppers Crossing, Abbotsbury, Quairading, Aitkenvale, Rosanna, and Boronia. National Assembly office staff, including Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan, also showed their support.

In an earlier statement, Stuart reinforced the importance of advocating for the humane treatment of refugees:

“Haven’t these people suffered enough? After all this time, is it still impossible for the Federal Government to show some compassion and bring them here?” he said.

“We stand together with our sisters and brothers of faith in other Australian churches calling for a long-term humanitarian solution that upholds the dignity of these vulnerable people.”

A proposal related to the safety and security of refugees on Manus Island was passed at the recent Presbytery and Synod meeting, which was held at Adelaide West Uniting Church from 23-25 November. The final wording of this proposal will be available in the meeting minutes, which will be published online here in the coming weeks.

Photos of the participating churches can be viewed here.

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