After nearly one year of the discernment, an Immigration & Sanctuary Team recommended that our congregation is not called to provide physical sanctuary for people under threat of detention/deportation. On Sunday, April 22, 2018, a Special Parish Meeting of St. John’s Episcopal Church affirmed that decision and unanimously approved the following Immigration Statement.
The Parish affirms that Saint John’s Episcopal Church is called to be a place that is welcoming, safe, and supportive of our immigrant friends, family, and neighbors. Our parish will respond to this call at this time by:
- Providing a safe place for all to worship, regardless of immigration status;
- Offering classes and resources to the immigrant community to help immigrants be aware of their rights and to assist people to pursue a legal immigration status and/or United States citizenship;
- Developing networks and relationships so that anyone known to be under threat of deportation from the United States can be connected with people/organizations with resources to legally assist.
In addition, the parish will:
- become a signatory to the Episcopal churches’ issue statement ‘of shared values about immigration and refugees’ (see below);
- reflect our Latino/Latina culture, along with the cultures of other immigrants in our congregation, in and around our parish grounds and life;
- partner with Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates (LIA) for legal services and assistance with immigration issues and, when able, consider LIA as an organization to support financially through mission and outreach;
- establish a Joint Ministries Team to arrange activities of interest to our English speaking and Spanish speaking members (click here to join the Team!);
- establish an Immigration Justice Leadership Team (click here to join the Team!).
The issue statement about immigration and refugees is below:
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
A Statement of Shared Values about Immigration & Refugees
Scripture and tradition call us to welcome the immigrant and the stranger. Abraham and Sarah’s travels in Genesis, including their hospitality to three strangers by the oaks of Mamre, and the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt in the Gospel of Matthew remind us that God protects those who seek safety in foreign lands. Scripture also calls people of faith to provide refuge:
“The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” — (Leviticus 19:34).
The undersigned clergy of The Episcopal Church are making a shared statement of values about the presence of immigrants and refugees in our communities. Our congregations are diverse. We are high church and low church, big and small, from red states and blue states. Our parishioners hold points of view across the political spectrum.
We share a common commitment to honor immigrants, refugees, and neighbors from different religions and we are deeply disturbed by the current swell of fear and scapegoating which seeks to criminalize and unfairly deport undocumented immigrants in our communities.
We are a nation of immigrants, and immigrants are important to the future of our country. They face problems particular to their status but they are deeply connected with our wider communities. They are long-time friends, neighbors, colleagues, students, service providers– and taxpayers. Statistics show that immigrants support a growing economy and that the crime rate among immigrants is lower than the general population.
But data is secondary to our unshakable biblical conviction that every person reflects the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity. In Jesus Christ, there is no “they;” there is only “we.” Immigration policies are not hypothetical questions for us. Many of our congregations include immigrants and our ministries work with refugees in our neighborhoods. Many of our communities have already been raided by immigration officials. Families are being separated and children left stranded. Our neighbors have reason to be afraid.
We commit to build relationships with immigrants and refugees in our communities, to know their stories and understand how our congregations can be in solidarity with them.
We stand together to witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also (1 John 4:20).