In March 2017, Follen Church committed itself to working with others to help provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants who are at risk of discrimination and deportation.
Offering sanctuary is an expression of the first principle of Unitarian Universalism, “the worth and dignity of every person.” In March 2017, Follen Church committed itself to working with others to help provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants who are at risk of discrimination and deportation. Our Unitarian Universalist faith inspires us to stand in solidarity with immigrant and refugee communities who are under unprecedented assault in the United States. They face the threat of separation from their families, communities, and workplaces through prolonged detention and mass deportation – in many cases, to some of the most dangerous places in the world such as Honduras and Iraq. Sanctuary is consistent with historic UU efforts to assist refugees and those escaping oppression, including the rescue of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.
There are many ways of building sanctuary, an environment where everyone feels safe:
- Working on behalf of “Dreamers,” people covered by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals);
- Being a “Level 2” congregation that supports a neighboring congregation that is providing physical sanctuary, e.g., meals and groceries, emotional and social support, translation, advocacy (written and physical), etc.;
- Being a “Level 1” congregation that provides physical sanctuary to a individual or family who is at imminent risk of deportation;
- Working to make sure that local police do not participate in federal immigration enforcement activities;
- Working as part of a rapid response network to mobilize volunteers to bear witness, accompany an immigrant to hearings, demonstrate, fund-raise, provide translation, etc.;
- Working to pass legislation such as the Massachusetts Safe Communities Act (S.1305/H.3269).
A small group (consisting of John Dacey, Jim Herzig, Catherine Rielly, and Anne Engelhart) has met together several times to learn more. We have attended a number of meetings with other groups, including several at First Parish Bedford (UU), which in April voted to become a Level 1 congregation. First Parish Bedford has worked very hard to create space for sanctuary seekers and is organizing an impressive volunteer network to support them. Our Follen committee is planning to support FPB as a Level 2 congregation, as well as to work on the legislative, advocacy, and other support actions outlined above.
Our Ingathering services pointed to the miraculous possibilities of what can happen when folks work hand in hand. We would like to ask that any members of the Follen community who feel so moved join us. If you are interested, please join us in the Emerson/Alcott room on October 2 at 6:30 if you can, or contact Anne Engelhart.