On the second weekend of May 2019 a small group of young adults gathered in Birmingham for the first ever FaithJustice weekend.
The Weekend titled “God’s Love Has No Borders” was themed on migration and welcome. Participants from a range of different backgrounds took part, those who have come to the UK from the EU, from Africa and Asia, alongside those who are British born. This meant there was also a range of legal status, from citizens by birth, EU residents, refugees, and those seeking asylum.
At the heart of our time together was the experience of encounter. A belief that bringing people together to share stories an to listen to each other is an act which can be transformative and redemptive.
The weekend was framed by a routine of prayer in the Taizé tradition which was very beautifully led by Judith, through the weekend we gathered five times for prayer.
We began with a time of sharing in small groups, each group mixed by ethnicity and gender. Each person was asked to share something of their story, and their response to some simple questions; what does it mean to be welcomed? What is your understanding of the word “border”? Then we moved into a time of bible study reflecting on Judges 19:10-26, one of the most horrendous episodes in the bible but one which resonates with violent and abusive events which continue in today’s world.
Later we heard stories of travel and welcome. One young man shared his story of leaving Rwanda as a refugee, another person shared their experience of volunteering in Calais. We heard from several people who had been warmly welcomed to the UK by St. Chad’s Sanctuary, a Birmingham based refugee and asylum-seeker welcome project. Then Steph led us in writing to our MPs about two ongoing campaigns, lifting the ban on asylum-seekers working, and ending indefinite detention of migrants.
During the weekend we enjoyed lots of social time together, including walking around the canal’s of Birmingham. We were very well fed, the food being cooked by our gifted head chef, Orla.
As we parted on the Sunday afternoon back to our realities hopefully we were able to return a little bit changed and with a a few new friends.
See some photos of the weekend here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmBhz8Te