Sanctuary Option 12: Give public declaration of physical, spiritual, moral, and financial support

Many of our congregations proudly display the message “All are welcomed,” or another “There will be no outcasts.” Have you ever wondered what this means, really means? In other words, when Jesus says “Feed my sheep,” does he literally mean, provide food to those who are hungry? To those who must choose between paying the rent, keeping the electricity on, or feeding their families? Or when the Episcopal Church says “There will be no outcasts,” do we really mean to include those who have over-stayed their visas to work the fields, clean hotel rooms, or construct buildings and are thus categorized as “undocumented aliens?” I hope so!
For our public statements to be meaningful, we need to be specific and be prepared to let our actions speak loudly. In earlier articles of this Sanctuary series, we have suggested educating ourselves on issues of citizenship, creating safe places for all, supporting efforts of agencies that can educate our brothers and sisters in fear of deportation about their rights, and collaborating with those agencies who have the expertise to assist with obtaining legal status. But congregations can also offer assistance in other ways:
  1. Hold prayer vigils for those seeking citizenship.
  2. Contribute to an established local “Legal Defense Fund” to provide assistance with legal costs of obtaining citizenship and/or legal defense at deportation hearings. Your area Faith in the Valley organizations may have established such a fund.
  3. Pray for families that are separated due to immigration status of parents with citizen children.
  4. Pray for those in danger of deportation – both those with legal status, and those without legal status.
  5. Work with your area Faith in the Valley organization in their advocacy and public policy actions.
  6. Publically state your support for working towards just immigration reform through policy statements, letters to the editor, and other public forums.
The spirituality of Jesus is firmly grounded in his actions. Jesus was not content to merely speak of the commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself: Jesus’ spirituality was firmly grounded in action. Jesus healed the sick of their diseases, raised the dead, and fed the hungry. And he did this in a very noisy and public manner.
We are called to do no less.
If you have any questions or contributions, please email me at DeaconNancy@diosanjoaquin.org.
Deacon Nancy

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