On July 23, Lakeshore’s Sanctuary Working Group (SWG) helped me lead a workshop that shared our church’s story of renewing our commitment to immigration justice through becoming a Sanctuary Congregation. During our workshop, members of our SWG shared what they (and our congregation) have learned from our commitment to be Sanctuary for the immi-grant community. Below are some of their profound insights.
If any of you are wondering why I as an African American would be so passionate about the fight for immigrant justice, it is my gratitude for the passions and sacrifices of all the others who walked, fought and died with many for our cause, that I stood up to speak out in support of LABC be-coming a Sanctuary congregation. It is the fabric of my being to fight for what is fair and just…Faith Organizations were the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement and I believe the church has a critical role it must play in the fight for immi-grant justice. I am so proud LABC Congregants are as passionate about stand-ing up for immigrant justice, and fairness as I am.
“Empowered by the Spirit, we strive to do justice, love kind-ness, and walk humbly with God.” This is part of my church’s mission statement. As someone who was part of revising our mission statement about 14 years ago and now part of a Long Range Planning committee that has worked for 4-5 years to try to assess where we are and where we are going to live out our mission statement, I was and am very concerned about how we are “doing justice.” And as an ex Peace Corps volunteer, I am very aware of what “being a stranger in a strange land” feels like…As we in our church continue to move for-ward with our work to support those caught in the harshness and impersonal nature of our immigration system, we hope others across our nation will join the fight to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God and our immigrant friends.
It would be a story of “hope realized” if we focused only on the actions we took to support people who were in danger of being deported and unjustly incarcerated. Some of these actions meant the difference between people being united with their families and their being consigned to situations of threat and even of death…But that would be only part of the story. Something we hadn’t anticipated was what these endeavors and decisions would do for us.
About how they’ve sensitized us to what goes on in our nation’s treatment of undocumented families and children, and also to seeing the gospel with new eyes. We’ve come to see how these two realities go together: the desperate circumstances of certain of God’s children and the central thrust of Christ’s mission.
How would you answer the question of what it means to you to be part of a Sanctuary Congregation? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I look forward to the ways we will continue to learn and grow, bless and be blessed, by our ongoing commitment to being Sanctuary.