Accountability For Sanctuary Decisions

One central theme at the 4/6 forum on the new sanctuary initiative at FUSD centered on whether the Board acted within its authority to decide to offer sanctuary ahead of a congregational vote, and whether due consideration was given to the host of question that such action entails. Process is a cornerstone of integrity in our covenantal relationships. It is entirely appropriate that the Board, the Faith in Action Council and the Immigration Task Force should be accountable for their decisions and for following due process. It is also appropriate that congregants in democratic institutions periodically examine whether existing process sets decisions at appropriate levels.

To further accountability and enable process review, we need a shared understanding about who knew/said/did what and when. The following timeline documents decisions and communications on this matter through early April 2014. Email datelines and published announcements form the basis of the timeline. Please communicate your further questions or concerns directly to Faith in Action Council through kateburns303@comcast.net or the Board through rbrown1981@comcast.net.

6/2/2013

Congregation adopted a mission statement which says in part:

 

“Joining hands and voices for justice and peace, we inspire lives of … spiritual integrity, growing an inclusive community of courage and caring.”

 

The Congregation adopted a 2012-14 Immigration Justice congregational project which included a plan to

 

“a) Companion one immigrant family [and] b) Companion one immigrant rights group … and find the best way to become an ally.”

 

AFSC (who brought us this request to provide a safe space for this immigrant) and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition were specifically identified as groups we should ally with.


1/9/2014

January Minister’s report raised the issue being taken under consideration by FUSD’s Faith in Action Council.

 

“We are also being asked (by the American Friends Service Committee) to be a Sanctuary Congregation for someone facing deportation.

 

This would involve a fairly public role for the church (with attendant publicity) minimal material support, and moderate volunteer support.

 

The Immigration Task Force is currently considering the viability of this and will take it to FIAC and the board if they decide to proceed.”

 

Followed by an email with background information from AFSC, the CIRC and MDD


1/11/2014

Board directed questions to the Faith in Action Council (FIAC) re: insurance, liability, zoning, smoking, security, time limitations, coordination with existing commitments (Family Promise, rentals, etc.), and building access for family members.


1/12/2014

FIAC recommends proceeding with an emergency commitment of 6 weeks to the immigrant facing immediate deportation eff. 1/15/14 unless INS hearing granted an extension. FIAC committed that the Immigration Task Force would undertake “an intense period of educating the congregation at large … [with] numerous opportunities for our congregants to discuss every part of offering sanctuary. Then, toward the end of that six weeks, we propose that a larger congregational polling of some sort should take place to allow our congregation, in democratic process, to decide whether or not to commit to a more sustained length of sanctuary—3 months, 6 months, or 9 months.”


1/13/2014

Board voted electronically to support the FIAC recommendation and extend sanctuary for the urgent situation, with caveat that FIAC would continue to pursue and publish answers to Board questions for congregational consideration. Board liaison notified FIAC to proceed.


1/13/2014 (eve)

K. Burns notified the Board that the immigrant seeking sanctuary had won last-minute extension, giving the Immigration Justice group more time to research answers and talk with the Congregation .


1/14/2014

FUSD members participate in press conference announcing the reprieve.


1/16/2014

FIAC organizes meetings to develop answers to questions, plan for involving the Congregation


1/9-16/2014

Two-week hiccup in getting FirstAnnounce out with vendor transition


1/23/2014

Board President E. Sollie publishes a notice about the Board’s action on sanctuary in her President’s report column in the Ploughshare. “As you are all aware, one of our Congregational Projects this year is Immigration Justice. There is a proposal on the table to become a Sanctuary congregation. Many of you will remember the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980’s which evolved to provide safe-haven for Central Americans. Fewer of you will remember the concept from medieval times. At any rate, there is now a growing movement to provide sanctuary for people facing deportation. FIAC made the recommendation that we proceed with this endeavor and the board after much discussion and soul-searching concurred. Mike has also put his weight behind the idea. Now it is your turn; please consult an Immigration Justice/FIAC/Board member or The Google to learn more. IJ is also beginning to hold informative meetings. We are all still learning, but will share what we know. This is a potentially scary and very meaningful way to stand with our neighbors. I like what Colleen Bryan (Board) wrote on the subject,
“When nothing we can do is enough, we do what we can. We take a stand and we take a risk. We witness and shine a light on predicaments that would otherwise remain buried, go unnoted. We do it even when there is no hope of a permanent fix or limiting risk. If the long arc is to bend toward justice, it requires our voices and our votes, our willingness to stand for justice one person at a time.”


1/22, 1/29, 2/16, 3/19, 3/26

Sanctuary group comprised of Immigration TF and others who feel strongly about the option meet to pursue and publish answers to questions that have come in from FIAC, the Board, and Congregants.


2/23/2014

Rev. Morran announces from the pulpit the Board decision to offer sanctuary .


 

Board rep sits at table during coffee hour and fields questions, concerns about the sanctuary issue (which were then submitted to FIAC/Immigration Task Force).

  • Maybe we should train volunteers on non-violent passive response when confronted with threat of violence (e.g., in case our offer of sanctuary is confronted by officials).
  • Is this family right for larger political/strategic goals? (not from someone who has knowledge of any individual)
  • Is the building suited for this task? Where would the immigrant stay and what needs to be done to make the space serviceable to that purpose?
  • Do we need to fund 24-hr. security given the current climate?
  • Why do civil disobedience in this regard rather than legal means (protest, petitions, writing letters to politicians, etc.)?
  • What possibility for a large national legal firm to defend our person (maybe Holland and Hart)?
  • A few people expressed strong support.

3/2/2014

Immigration Task Force/Romero Troupe sponsors church services focused on one immigrant’s experience of our broken immigration laws.


3/13/2014

FirstAnnounce article submitted by Jim Harlin

 

"What forces led to the current state of affairs with our immigration system?" This is only one of many thoughtful questions posed by congregants in response to our invitation to submit questions as we prepare to become a New Sanctuary Church. This Sunday, March 16th from 10:45a to 11:30a in a portion of the Community Room, Carol Hildebrand, immigration lawyer with the firm Sherman & Howard and long-term member of our congregation, will discuss this issue. Her talk, followed by a Q and A session, is titled: "The Limitations of the Federal Immigrant and Nationality Act: How do people become deportable?" Tasty refreshments will be served. In subsequent weeks additional forums will provide information on other questions.


3/16/2014

Sanctuary forum after both services


3/27/2014

FirstAnnounce and website notice of 3/30 forum on sanctuary


3/30/2014

Sanctuary forum after 2nd service


4/3/2014

FirstAnnounce, website and 4/4 Facebook notice of 4/6 forum specifically to present answers to questions raised about sanctuary


4/6/2014

Extended discussion focusing on participants concerns following both services