C009 Becoming A Sanctuary Church

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, in obedience to the many biblical injunctions imploring us not to wrong or oppress the alien in our midst and Jesus' own mandate to extend care for the stranger, and in accordance with our Baptismal Covenant and in the spirit of being inclusive, reaffirms resolution 2015-D057 supporting the New Sanctuary Movement; and be it further

Resolved, That The Episcopal Church urge its members, as people of faith and people of conscience, pledge to challenge and question any unjust immigration law, policy, or practice that is inconsistent with our biblical mandate to "not wrong or oppress a resident alien" (Exodus 22:21); and be it further

Resolved, That The Episcopal Church recommend that its dioceses and congregations become places of sanctuary, serving as places of welcome, refuge, healing, and other forms of material and pastoral support for those targeted for deportation due to immigration status or some perceived status of difference, and that we work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to ensure the dignity and human rights of all people; and be it further

Resolved, That The Episcopal Church encourage its members to connect with local and national sanctuary communities and institutions, immigrant rights groups and coalitions, and engage in educating, organizing, advocacy, and direct action, and other methods as deemed appropriate in each context, to ensure the safety and security of the undocumented community, and to assist in equipping congregations, clergy and lay leaders to engage in such work, appropriate to local contexts, capacity, and discernment.

Explanation

As a people of faith committed to dismantling oppressive systems and building structures and communities that reflect God’s compassion and justice, we must do nothing less than make straight a highway in the desert for our sisters and brothers. The bible has numerous injunctions that instruct us not to wrong or oppress the alien in our midst (Exodus 22:21 & 23:9, Leviticus 19:33, 23:22 & 24:22, Numbers 15:16, Deuteronomy 24:20-21 & 27:19, Jeremiah 7:6-7, Zechariah 7:10, and Malachi 3:5). Jesus is clear that the righteous inherit eternal life because "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Matthew 25:35). He also makes clear that our failure to address his need results in the condemnation of the unrighteous because "I was a stranger and you did not welcome me" (Matthew 25:43). Our baptismal vows require us to "seek and serve Christ in all persons" and to "strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being" (Book of Common Prayer p. 305).

For many years, immigrants and their families have suffered on the margins of our society. They have been scapegoated during difficult economic times and victimized by harsh anti-immigrant sentiment.

In the aftermath of statements made during the presidential campaign of 2016, there is heightened concern that rhetoric villainizing immigrants will become policy that targets our siblings in the family of God because of their immigration status, political or religious beliefs.

This resolution puts our faith into action by standing with the growing number of cities, colleges, and communities of faith declaring themselves places of welcome, refuge, and healing, for those targeted for deportation due to immigration status or some perceived status of difference or barred from entry to this country, as we work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to ensure the dignity and human rights of all people.