C018 Becoming a Sanctuary Church

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church declare itself to be a Sanctuary Church, as defined by the following actions and commitments; and be it further

Resolved, That The Episcopal Church encourage and support congregations and institutions of the church, both within and outside the United States, to consider becoming Sanctuary Congregations and Institutions, serving as places of welcome, refuge, healing, and other forms of material and pastoral support for migrants and refugees and for all those targeted by hate due to immigration status or some perceived status of difference such as religion or nationality; and be it further

Resolved, That The Episcopal Church encourage and support congregations and institutions across the church to work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to ensure the dignity and human rights of all people, and specifically to connect with local and national sanctuary communities and institutions, faith-based coalitions, and immigrant rights groups engage in educating, organizing, advocacy, legal direct action, and other methods as deemed appropriate in each context, to ensure the safety, security, and due process for immigrants and refugees, with a focus on keeping families together; and be it further

Resolved, That The Episcopal Church affirm our church’s support for U.S. executive policies that deemphasize immigrant enforcement action against those who have not committed felony crimes, and reaffirm our church’s support for congressional action for comprehensive and just reform of the broken U.S. immigration system as called for in General Convention resolution 2009-B006: “to allow undocumented immigrants who have established roots in the United States and are often parents and spouses of U.S. Citizens to have a pathway to legalization and to full social and economic integration in to the United States.”

Explanation

For many years, migrant families in the United States and in many other countries have suffered on the margins of our society. They have been scapegoated during difficult economic times and victimized by harsh anti-immigrant ordinances passed by countries, states, and localities. In the aftermath of the recent U.S. presidential election there is heightened concern that the campaign rhetoric villainizing immigrants has become policy targeting them because of their immigration status or religious beliefs.
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. 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 by hate due to immigration status or some perceived status of difference as we work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to ensure the dignity and human rights of all people. We acknowledge that Holy Scripture calls us to welcome the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19, Leviticus 19:34, Matthew 25:35), and therefore to resist the stated policy proposals of the newly elected Trump administration to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants, including veterans who have honorably service in the US Military, and to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that has granted temporary relief for thousands of young people in our communities and families. We acknowledge that this call extends to supporting the rights of migrants and refugees throughout the Americas and the world who are fleeing violence (both state and non-state violence) and catastrophic events such as those brought on by climate change.
In reference to speaking up for justice on controversial issues, we remember the words of our former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold saying, "To open the door of one's heart is to relinquish certitude in favor of living the questions and to see Christ in all who knock 'on the right or the left…It means to embrace and take into the inner chamber of one's own being seemingly irreconcilable and passionately held points of view, submitting them to the truth who is Christ and then remaining steadfast, even in the very midst of hell, without despair."