In 2004 after serving St Boniface church in Antwerp for six years, the then Bishop in Europe, the late Dr Geoffrey Rowell, asked me to leave Belgium to serve the church in England as there was a need. An and I crossed the Channel with our two young children.
The Bishop would never have thought that 15 years later, our country would be divided about the value people from the continent could contribute to our society.
An, the children and I have always been made very welcome here. But I am concerned about others. In the spirit of Jesus Christ we are called to extend our welcome to everyone, regardless of nationality, colour, religion or conviction.
In the plans that are on the table non-European immigrants will be treated equally with EU citizens. Recent figures show a numeric drop in people moving from the EU to the UK and a rise in numbers from the rest of the world. This will generate a greater ethnic diversity in our society, which is good as we are all children of God.
As a church we have shown that we can be outstanding in offering hospitality to people from abroad when we welcomed Watoto choir from Uganda a few weeks ago. We are good at this, but we can do more by extending our warm welcome not just to visitors but to all who live in our country, regardless of their background. Through your hospitality you will demonstrate God’s love for them.