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Bishop of Lichfield sees work carried out by German churches to support refugees

The Bishop of Lichfield has visited Germany to see the work being carried out to build bridges between local communities and refugees.

The Right Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave and his wife Dr Julia Ipgrave spent five days as a guest of the Nordkirche Lutheran Church in northern Germany.

During their visit they went to Café Mittenmang in Hamburg, a meeting place for local people and refugees, and visited church projects in Bad Doberan, Rostock and Schwerin that work with refugees and the jobless.

The Bishop of Lichfield Dr Michael Ipgrave with an Afghan citizen at Cafe Mittenmang

The Bishop of Lichfield Dr Michael Ipgrave with an Afghan citizen at Cafe Mittenmang

Bishop Michael said: “We are part of a worldwide family of Christians and the challenges we face are shared in different ways across the world. To see churches responding in practical and loving ways to the needs of refugees and others in their communities was heart-warming and encouraging.

“I pray that churches in the Midlands, in Germany and elsewhere will continue to choose to respond with practical love, care and attention to all who are in need.”

Bishop Michael has previously spoken about the importance of building bridges between churches in the Midlands and the rest of Europe in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Revd Christa Hunzinger, who hosted the trip, said: “I totally agree with him that our relations have become even more important after the Referendum for Brexit. We have to work for and live in unity, not hate and separation.

“I felt especially touched in his interest for our work with refugees. Together we had beautiful and very moving encounters in the Café Mittenmang where every Saturday afternoon people from the parish and refugees come together, chat, learn German, eat and play.”

The visit follows a three-day celebration of the Diocese of Lichfield’s partnership with Nordkirche in November.

At the time, Bishop Michael said it was important churches became hubs to connect different communities.

“Links such as this, particularly with continental Europe, and in this case Germany, become all the more important because Brexit was not a vote to leave Europe – it was specifically about the European Union,” he said. “We are part of Europe and this is a way of building those links even more strongly and making the bridges even firmer that bind us in friendship with other European Christians.

“Many people feel disenfranchised or culturally excluded – either their communities are forgotten or changing so fast that they are disorientated. We need to find ways to be a sign of hope in despairing places, to ensure our churches are places where people do not feel excluded or belittled.”

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