A Letter from the Session on Sanctuary Church

September 20, 2017

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in. Matthew 25:35

Dear Calvary Members and Friends,

The Session has heard and discussed the growing enthusiasm among the congregation about the possibility of Calvary becoming a Sanctuary Church, and we expect to make a decision within a month or two. We’d like to fill you in on what that would and would not involve and to invite your prayerful input. We see this not as a political issue but as a humanitarian one on which we look to Jesus as an exemplar of what we should do. We are writing for your feedback.

In 2016, the 222th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) passed a resolution titled, “Reaffirming the Ministry of Sanctuary by Congregations,” its sixth official statement since 1984 about offering Sanctuary. Calvary has also had a history of serving the wider community: sponsoring a Vietnamese immigrant family fleeing Vietnam, opening doors to faith communities who needed space for worship after the earthquakes, and providing emotional support during the AIDS epidemic. During the last eight months, members of Session, staff, clergy, and our congregation have attended events, classes, and panels educating us on the current state of undocumented immigrants and what becoming a Sanctuary Church means.

Sanctuary today does not necessarily mean providing housing or shelter, and Calvary is not considering housing individuals at the church. More often, people seek Sanctuary in the following ways, each of which allows individual Calvary members and friends to participate in providing Sanctuary according to their conscience and capabilities:

Advocate at the Local, State and National level for policies that protect the due process of immigrants, prevent mass deportation and fear created by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and promote their full dignity and integration into our local communities. Engage in local public actions and activities to shift public discourse towards supporting immigrants, Muslims, and refugees, and bring attention to our responsibility to address root causes for the movement of refugees and immigrants to the US.

Accompaniment of Immigrant Families or Youth:
Accompany immigrants in urgent situations and need support. Trained volunteers provide courtroom accompaniment, facilitate access to services, and offer concrete and emotional support to help those in a period of crisis.

Networks of Protection & Rapid Response:
Engage in networks to respond to ICE workplace raids, home raids or other enforcement activity and increase protection for immigrants through announcing events and actions to promote justice.

Please join us on Sunday, October 8th, when we welcome Nghiep Ke Lam who will share his immigration story during service and at the Adult Education Seminar following worship. During this Seminar, we will provide more information about what declaring Sanctuary looks like and allow time to answer any questions.

If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or would like additional information, please email us at ClerkofSession@calpres.org or reach out to any Session member with your thoughts. We welcome your feedback.

Yours in Christ,
Scott Nagelson
Elder, Faith in Action Team Chair
Stephanie Gee
Elder, International Missions