Most of our churches have Sanctuaries already.
They house our worship, our meetings, our choir rehearsals. They are places where some sit alone to find a space for a deep-felt prayer to be heard. Our youths' rushing feet thunder through them in the midst of some game or another. Our children's eyes often widen at the majesty of the space.
Many churches have realized, though, that Sanctuary is more than a room. It's a mission.
It is a mission to be a place of refuge for the vulnerable, a place where the biblical mandate of scripture to welcome the stranger is held higher than any other law.
In the early 1980s, when refugees fleeing violence and war in Central America were being denied asylum in the United States, churches stepped forward to offer sanctuary. A place of support and shelter. A public witness against the inhumanity of turning people away from our borders to return to their deaths. These churches took families and individuals into their buildings, mounted public campaigns to protect them from deportation, and fought to help them receive asylum from the government.
Today, churches continue this tradition by providing physical sanctuary to - as well as advocacy on behalf of - individuals and families facing deportation. If your congregation is interested in taking Sanctuary from a room to a mission, here are three steps you can begin today.
The Rev. John Allen is the Pastor of the First Congregational Church, UCC in Milton.