Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The New Sanctuary Movement

As mentioned this past Sunday in the sermon, there is a movement among churches to create and sustain opportunities of compassion and outreach to illegal immigrants, those seeking asylum, and others involved in immigration red tape. This movement, endorsed by the United Church of Christ at our UCC General Synod in June. At the meeting, we approved "A CALL FOR A MORE HUMANE U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY; END TO MIGRANT DEATHS; AND SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES." The Synod also urged pastors and congregations to "form grass roots organizations working in conjunction with established groups such as Border Links, Presbyterian Border Ministry, Samaritan Patrols...The New Sanctuary Movement..."

In many ways, our outreach to immigrants is similar to the outreach offered a century and a half ago with the Underground Railroad. To aid and help a runaway slave was a criminal offense and many felt unAmerican, since slavery became an integral part of the American identity. And yet, there were those who felt compassion on the runaway slaves and offered to help them as best they could. Our congregational history is rich in offering help to this historic crisis.

Today we are at a crossroads when it comes to immigration. While there is certainly a problem and in some states, a problem with staggering implications to our national resources, there remains our call as Christians to feel compassion on those who are hurting, oppressed, or caught in difficult circumstances. How do we alleviate such suffering while not 'getting into trouble' or, how can we stand idly by and watch families be torn apart while singing our praises to the Lord, remain outstanding questions, depending on where you stand on the issues of immigration, national patriotism, and fiscal responsibilities. Wherever we come down on the issues, there is something each of us can do either minimally or on a larger scale.

To learn what you can do about it, you can attend a free gathering this week at St. Bart's Church, 51st and Park Ave, in NYC on Thursday, September 6 from 10am- 5pm. If you are interested in attending, please contact our church office. For directions, click here. If you would like more information, or cannot attend the conference, visit the New Sanctuary Movement website to learn more about the issue and come to your own conclusions.

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