Friday, February 17, 2017

It Begins: The New Sanctuary Movement

Yesterday on NPR, I heard this story about a woman in Denver who reported to a church instead of reporting to her deportation.  I thought, and so it begins, our new sanctuary movement.

My current church would not work well as a sanctuary church--we have no shower or any way to bathe except for a sink here or there.  To get to the fellowship hall, one must leave the building, which might leave sanctuary seekers at risk--they'd have to choose between the church sanctuary and the fellowship hall.

We share our space with roughly 7 other congregations--because we have 3 large gathering spaces (our fellowship hall has two sides, and either can be used as a large space), it works well to share.  What would happen if one of the church groups wanted to shelter someone, and the others didn't approve?

We are a small church--occasionally we do a shelter week with a homeless group, and it's hard to get enough church volunteers to make that happen.  I'd be interested to know how churches shelter a person in an ongoing way--how are boundaries drawn?

I will be interested to see how the Trump administration handles this issue.  I know that for years, officials have been careful to keep immigration showdowns out of churches, hospitals, schools, and other "sensitive locations."  But those policies were created by other people.

I haven't always been sure of the faith lives of U.S. leadership, but I've known about the faith traditions that might have shaped them.  With past leaders, I thought there might be a chance that they'd understand the motivation of sanctuary churches.

With Trump, I'm fairly sure that he hasn't been around the types of people who have the theology that would lead them to offer shelter.  Will he react in authoritarian fervor?  Will he decide that he has more pressing issues and thus ignore the sanctuary movement?

I suspect that it depends on how the movement grows or doesn't grow--and what other issues emerge in the coming weeks.

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