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Solidarity With Persecuted Christians

Tuesday May 21 2019

The Very Rev Dr John Chalmers


The convener of the World Mission Council has attacked ‘the pernicious xenophobia which has crept into the culture in too many developed nations’ and called on churches to speak for the poor and persecuted, particularly refugees.

The Very Rev Dr John Chalmers said that he could ‘hardly believe’ that since 2015, when there was recognition of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, ‘there has been such a populist backlash against migration that it is more difficult now than it was then to find safe passage and a safe destination’.

He said: “I sometimes despair of the populist message and mindset which is influencing so many nations to focus inwards on themselves believing that greatness or success go hand in hand with closing your doors to the migrant and the stranger.”

In his introduction to the World Mission Council report, Dr Chalmers focused on the church’s work with mission partners working with refugees in the Mediterranean, in Nepal, and in South Sudan, where the churches have recently been instrumental in bringing together formerly opposing political leaders.

Later the Assembly stood for a minute’s silence in remembrance and solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world.

Pakistani delegate the Rt Rev Alwin Samuel told the Commissioners: “Most Christians in Pakistan live below the poverty line. But poverty doesn’t kill us. It’s the scourge of Sharia law and the blasphemy law that hangs over us 24/7 that kills us.” He told the stories of Christians in his Diocese of Sialkot, including a Christian youth who had been shot dead after drinking from a tap belonging to a Muslim, a man with mental health problems who had been accused of blasphemy who has been beaten in prison, and a girl who was killed for refusing to marry a Muslim man.

Mr Samuel concluded: “We are going through difficult times, please, we need your support. Be the voice of us voiceless people. Amplify the whisper that we are being persecuted.

“Your efforts will not be in vain. Asia Bibi was acquitted because the whole world campaigned.”


The General Assembly approved a revised version of the Church of Scotland Guild’s constitution, reflecting an increase in the number of vice-conveners, a move from standing committees to task-based groups and a change in regional groupings from ‘Presbyterial Councils to ‘Guilds Together’.

Patricia Robertson, national convener of the Guild, said that: “We realise that changing a constitution or a name will not of themselves fix our problems. Rather, we offer these changes as part of a wider picture of the Guild as an organisation that travels its journey with a smile on its face!”

She also revealed that in the first year of its ‘one journey, many roads’ strategy the Guild had raised £195,000 for its six partner projects.


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