Our Vision for Justice
'The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: 'See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.' Micah 6:8
Here at South West London Vineyard we view the Christian faith as being a vision, not only for individuals, but for society as well and how we can live well in all our relationships and communities.
In a world where many visions for humanity vie for our attention, as the church, we believe we need to be asking how the good news of the gospel of Jesus addresses some of the global, national & local questions of our age.
As a local church, we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to address some of the many injustices experienced by those in the church, in this church and in our local communities and are committed to addressing these issues.
Over the coming year we want to develop a strategic approach to taking responsibility for addressing issues of justice.
According to Amnesty International:
- there are 26 million refugees globally
- half of the world’s refugees are children
- 85% of refugees are being hosted in developing countries
- in 2019, more than 2/3 of all refugees came from just five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar
Every day, all over the world, people make one of the most difficult decisions in their lives: to leave their homes in search of a safer, better life.
Many of us have had the experience of leaving the place where we grew up - maybe moving to another town or city. However, for some, they need to leave their country entirely – maybe for a short time, but sometimes forever.
There are many reasons why people around the globe seek to rebuild their lives in a different country. Some people leave home to get a job or an education. Others are forced to flee persecution or human rights violations such as torture. Millions flee from armed conflicts or other crises or violence. Some no longer feel safe and might have been targeted just because of who they are or what they do or believe – for example, for their ethnicity, religion, sexuality or political opinions.
These journeys, which all start with the hope for a better future, can also be full of danger and fear. Some people risk falling prey to human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. Some are detained by the authorities as soon as they arrive in a new country.
Once they are settling in and start building a new life, many face daily racism, xenophobia and discrimination.
Some people end up feeling alone and isolated because they have lost the support networks that most of us take for granted – our churches, communities, colleagues, families and friends.
The terms 'refugee', 'asylum-seeker' and 'migrant; are used to describe people who are on the move, who have left their countries and have crossed borders.
The terms 'migrant' and 'refugee' are often used interchangeably but it is important to distinguish between them as there is a legal difference.
A refugee is a person who has fled their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution there. The risks to their safety and life were so great that they felt they had no choice but to leave and seek safety outside their country because their own government cannot or will not protect them from those dangers. Refugees have a right to international protection.
An asylum-seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations in another country, but who hasn’t yet been legally recognised as a refugee and is waiting to receive a decision on their asylum claim. Seeking asylum is a human right. This means everyone should be allowed to enter another country to seek asylum.
There is no internationally accepted legal definition of a migrant. Here at SWLV we understand migrants to be people staying outside their country of origin, who are not asylum-seekers or refugees. Some migrants leave their country because they want to work, study or join family, for example. Others feel they must leave because of poverty, political unrest, gang violence, natural disasters or other serious circumstances that exist there. Just because migrants may not be fleeing persecution, they are still entitled to have their human rights protected and respected, regardless of the status they have in the country they moved to.
As part of our commitment to see justice and mercy being done, here at SWLV we want to be a welcoming community in a rapidly changing world.
Our hope, as a local church, in partnership with others, is to tackle issues of immigration and make a positive difference to refugees & those seeking asylum.
As a first step towards this, SW London Vineyard has joined with the Welcome Churches network as we seek to love and welcome the stranger, whatever their cultural background.
Welcome Churches’ vision is to see No Refugee Alone. They partner with local churches to help welcome refugees and asylum seekers to their local community.
You can find out more information about our work here:
If you, or anyone you know, are a refugee or asylum seeker, we would love to connect with you and extend you a warm welcome, so please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you and help support you in whatever ways we can.
Watch a Welcome message here:
You are very welcome here...
bi xêr hatî
Environment & Climate Change
Should Christians speak up on climate change?
But what can we do?
‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’ Proverbs 31:8-9
>> Take Action
The planet is in crisis - from climate change to the pollution in our oceans and devastation of our forests. It's up to all of us to fix it. Calculate your personal carbon footprint here: WWF Footprint Calculator
By emailing, calling, writing to or meeting up with your MP about the climate crisis, you’re letting them know that you care. It may sound intimidating to speak directly to your MP about a big topic like this, but you don’t need to be an expert or have all the answers – it’s simply about letting them know you want to see urgent action. If you’d like to contact your MP, you can use this editable template provided by Tearfund to email them directly.
In the lead up to COP26, SWLV ran a 5-week series on Sundays looking at what the Bible says about Climate Change & the Environment and how responding to climate change is an essential part of our responsibility to stewarding & safeguarding God's creation.
You can listen to these talks again here:
As world leaders met for COP26, VKids compiled a range of resources for you & your family. You can find them all here: VKids Resources on Climate Change
>> Praying for Climate Change
An A Rocha UK Project
Eco Church: A Rocha UK
We are proud to be working with Eco Church: A Rocha UK's award scheme for churches in England & Wales who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God's Earth.
Through a range of online surveys and supporting resources A Rocha equip churches to express care for God’s world in worship and teaching; in how we look after our buildings and land; in how we engage with our local community and in global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of the congregation.
The vision for Eco Church is for churches of all denominations to care for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully.
SW London Vineyard is proud to have been granted a Bronze Award and we are now working towards our Silver Award by implementing a number of actions & initiatives. We will keep you updated through this page over the coming months.
You can find out more information about Eco Church here:
Eco Church is an A Rocha UK project, run in partnership with Christian Aid, The Church of England, The Methodist Church, Tearfund, The United Reformed Church and Allchurches Trust Limited
Race & Ethnicity
To pro-actively practise our belief in the equality of all peoples and valuing the richness that comes with racial and ethnic diversity. Racism is a sin; as such we oppose racism in all its forms. We believe that there should be a reflection of BAME followers of Jesus at all levels within the church, acknowledging that we are all part of the body of Christ made in the image of God, fully human.
Gender equality means that people of all genders are able to enjoy the same rights and opportunities in all aspects of their lives. UK law states that men and women should have equal rights in all areas such as pay, the right to vote and the job they do. However, this is not always the case, and certainly not always in religion, as men and women have traditionally had different roles to play in religious customs. We believe that all of humanity is equal, as all of humanity was created in the image and likeness of God. No one sex or race is above or superior to another. South West London Vineyard does not agree with any form of discrimination including gender discrimination. Men and women are equals and both are children of God.
Global poverty & Injustice
Working alongside other organisations to end modern day slavery; support peace & reconciliation both locally and across the globe; and work for human rights
Family, Marriage & Sexuality
We are to be committed to working well with and supporting the diversity of households across our local communities. Our commitment is to love, serve and support all individuals & families as best we can irrespective of our own personal beliefs, perspectives or positions
Poverty, Welfare & Financial Inclusion
Working to end poverty, hunger, and problem debt in our community and helping to create a more just economic system in which all people and communities can flourish. Life ‘in all its fullness’ includes being able to support ourselves and our families and having the chance to develop and use our skills and gifts. Too many lives are held back by poverty and lack of opportunity.