Considering the Charter of Groningen - 30 years - a Mission Statement
In 1988 a large number of religious communities – from all over Europe & beyond – designed and signed a covenant named the Charter of Groningen. From Geneva via Berlin and Manchester to South Africa religious communities of all denominations committed themselves to the principles of the Charter.
In doing so, these communities took position. They sided – and continue to do so – with refugees and asylum seekers in need. In the past 30 years the Charter and the work of faith communities has had meaning in the lives of many people. Displaced people, rejected refugees, those without identities, the stateless, the homeless, people unjustly threatened with deportation into danger, the sick, elderly or (severely) ill, people without future. People, in short, who had nowhere else to turn to. “The stranger in our gates”, who were helped, sometimes with limited resources, but as much as we could.
30 years of the Charter is no cause for celebrations. The fact that our efforts were needed, sooner gives cause for sad reflection. However: it is also good to consider that we can make a difference when we pull together, reaching out to those in need and helping each other to carry the load. Supporting one another, inspiring and encouraging each other to make a difference in the lives of people. Yes, even giving people a new future.
There are still many refugees and asylum seekers in need. The gruesome fact is that the recent years have seen more people displaced than ever before since World War II ended. And still many of them are seeing their fundamental rights as human beings and as refugees withheld from them. Most states do not take the responsibilities that they should and could shoulder.
So the work continues. It is more necessary than ever. It is all the more reason for us to consider the principles and spirit of the Charter once again. And all the more reason to call upon new communities to join in and commit themselves to siding with refugees and asylum-seekers in need.