At its annual meeting on Sunday, January 29, 2017, University Lutheran Church took a significant step toward becoming a Sanctuary congregation.
By a vote of 52-0 with 4 abstentions, the congregation resolved to declare itself a Sanctuary Church to support members of area communities who are under threat of deportation. The resolution is contingent upon the signing of a Sanctuary Covenant with at least four other area congregations; some of these area congregations have already committed support, and others are in active conversation with UniLu about joining the coalition. The full text of the resolution appears below.
In a post to the University Lutheran Church Facebook page, Pastor Kathleen Reed wrote, “Resistance is an outcome of repentance. And at University Lutheran Church in Harvard Square we have now begun a long overdue process of repenting of our lack of attention to the plight of our immigrant neighbors who have been seeking—for years!, and not finding a permanent welcome. We have fallen short of the biblical mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves. But we are awake now…. Let us commit to standing against systematic out-casting of our Muslim neighbors. Let us be ready to join with the undocumented and irregular visa status communities, community organizing groups, and our sister faith communities in Cambridge—and beyond—to plant our bodies in the doorways of the local, state, and federal government in support of our most vulnerable. Not for a moment, but for the long haul.”
University Lutheran Church, founded in 1928, is a congregation and campus ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A committee of congregation members, including faculty, staff, and students at Boston-area colleges, has been working for several months to plan the effort. For more information, contact Sanctuary Committee chair Kristofer Rhude at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University Lutheran Sanctuary Resolution
Whereas the political and social climate of our nation has become increasingly hostile towards immigrants and refugees, endangering the safety of many members of our communities;
Whereas the Bible exhorts us to protect the stranger and those in need (Matthew 25:31-46), because “if one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:26), and among the greatest commandments is: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39);
Whereas University Lutheran is a community which is open and affirming to all people, with valuable experience and the facilities to house those in need;
Whereas in response to a request from the Oregon Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is currently considering becoming the first Sanctuary Denomination in the nation, and UniLu can provide an additional Lutheran example for the churchwide body as they discuss a national Sanctuary proposal; and
Whereas there are neighboring congregations in Harvard Square who wish to join us in the Sanctuary Movement and none of us can do it on our own, now, therefore, be it
Resolved, that contingent upon the signing of a Sanctuary Covenant* supported by at least four other area congregations, University Lutheran Association of Greater Boston declares itself a Sanctuary Church to support the valued members of our area communities who are under threat of deportation;
that this support includes partnering with the undocumented and irregular visa status communities and their community organizing groups; advocating for the ELCA, and local, state, and federal government to support undocumented and irregular visa status people for a new, fair, immigration process; and, if necessary, using our building to house and protect people under threat of deportation;
that grounded in our faith, and as a logical continuation of our ministry of radical inclusion through Jesus Christ, UniLu will—to the best of our ability—respond to the changing conditions of our country, working with our immigrant and refugee communities to support them and their families through existing trials, and as new challenges arise; and that as a sign of our continuing commitment to changing circumstances, this resolution will require annual renewal.
*This Sanctuary Covenant will be negotiated with our partner congregations by the UniLu Sanctuary Committee and the UniLu Church Council, who will regularly solicit congregational feedback during this process. This resolution empowers the UniLu Church Council to vote on the final approval of this multi-congregational Sanctuary Covenant on behalf of the congregation, at which point, this resolution comes into full effect.
Following Immigration Ban, Religious Leaders Propose Using Places Of Worship As Sanctuaries, by Deborah Becker, WBUR-FM. January 30, 2017.