Our congregation on the Westside of Santa Barbara is blessed to be bi-cultural and bi-lingual. This congregation has resources for all churches during this time of fear and anxiety about immigration.
In a recent report to the conference leadership team, pastor Rich Sander wrote:
Pueblo FMC partnered with the Trinity Episcopal church to bring a forum to Santa Barbara regarding the Sanctuary movement and practical next steps for congregations. In SB, we’re meeting again this coming Wednesday as we form an inter-faith coalition that stands with the immigrant and refugee.
Below is an overview of what we learned at the forum from speaker Alexia Salvatierra.
First, I wanted to reiterate that what we have learned is that its more important for us to be in the work of “changing hearts and minds” than going full-steam-ahead on protests, declaring sanctuary, and/or housing immigrants/refugees. While all of the latter are important, chances are that they are much less needed than the former.
Our main goal is to lower anxiety. Easy ways to do that are found in the web site. I’ll go over the documents and their usefulness:
1) Rights/Derechos – One of the main ways we can help immigrants and refugees is for them to know their basic human rights as well as the rights that are afforded to them with regard to arrest and/or entrance into their homes. This card is easy to print out and laminate; anyone can use it when they are being questioned, arrested, or even when someone knocks on their door. It is against the law for ICE or the police to enter a home without a warrant; however many immigrant families are unaware that they *do not* have to open the door unless a warrant is presented. We also want to remind them that they most likely will not be on any deportation list unless they have somehow broken the law outside of being undocumented. (Note: this could change pending the current administration)
2) Preparedness Plans – The best action churches can take is to sit down with families in their congregations and fill out the Family Preparedness Plan (here in both English and Spanish). This helps to lower anxiety that if families are separated, there is a plan in place as to who is “safe,” where the children can go/who they can call, and, in my personal opinion, one of the best ways for the church to BE family to those living in fear. At Pueblo FMC, many of us are part of the family plan to take in children and/or be the first point of contact if something happens.
3) FM Positions on Immigration – This was provided by the SCOD in 2013 and posted in English and Spanish. Part of “changing hearts and minds” is for us to have a unified, biblical hermeneutic on immigration, which our denominational leadership has already done. We teach from this and make it available at every service. Coupled with preaching from the pulpit, it allows all of us to stand on a theologically supported base and move our congregations into action. At Pueblo FMC, we recently went over this document with our LBOA so that they are firm on our position as a church with regards to loving the neighbor.
4) ACLU Sanctuary FAQ – LBOA and leadership will most likely have many questions regarding what a “full sanctuary declaration” would mean for their congregations, both legally as well as financially. This begins to highlight some of the legal definitions around sanctuary. This is by no means a substitute for a lawyer, however it does begin to answer some of the most pressing questions.
Lastly, I’ve included some articles from the Matthew 25 Movement,
who our speaker, Alexia Salvatierra, founded.
There are 3 resources there:
1) A Discernment Resource – to help prepare a congregation to enter into sanctuary work
2) Immigrant Ministry Guidelines from the Lutheran Synod. These can be helpful in seeing how other denominations have handled sanctuary.
And 3/4) there are 2 videos hosted on YouTube that go over in detail re: sanctuary congregations and what the movement entails.