Most of our churches have Sanctuaries already.
They house our worship, our meetings, our choir rehearsals. They are places where some sit alone to find a space for a deep-felt prayer to be heard. Our youths' rushing feet thunder through them in the midst of some game or another. Our children's eyes often widen at the majesty of the space.
Many churches have realized, though, that Sanctuary is more than a room. It's a mission.
It is a mission to be a place of refuge for the vulnerable, a place where the biblical mandate of scripture to welcome the stranger is held higher than any other law.
In the early 1980s, when refugees fleeing violence and war in Central America were being denied asylum in the United States, churches stepped forward to offer sanctuary. A place of support and shelter. A public witness against the inhumanity of turning people away from our borders to return to their deaths. These churches took families and individuals into their buildings, mounted public campaigns to protect them from deportation, and fought to help them receive asylum from the government.
Today, churches continue this tradition by providing physical sanctuary to - as well as advocacy on behalf of - individuals and families facing deportation. If your congregation is interested in taking Sanctuary from a room to a mission, here are three steps you can begin today.
Gather those in your community who are interested in offering sanctuary for a time of prayer. Ask for God's presence and guidance throughout this process. Discern together if God is calling your community to take this step.
Download the "Sanctuary Toolkit" and "Sanctuary Tactics and Resources" from the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant justice. These documents will guide you through the process of becoming a Sanctuary Church, and they offer many helpful resources to guide you along the journey. Also see resources on the Conference Immigration and Refugee Task Team Sanctuary page.
Partner with the Immigration and Refugee Justice Task Team. We can do much more together than we can do alone. The Immigration Justice Task Team will help you connect with grassroots immigration advocacy organizations that will want to know you are offering sanctuary.
You can contact Rev. John Allen with any questions: email@example.com. John is a member of the MACUCC Immigration and Refugee Justice Task Team.