New Sanctuary update

Blurb from the Board
~Elizabeth Sollie


One major emphasis of the April board meeting was the New Sanctuary update.   As I hope you all know by now, we are considering becoming a New Sanctuary church.  The board voted in support of the Faith in Action recommendation in case we are required to act before the June 1 congregational meeting.   I encourage everyone to go to the forums and get educated about this.  You may also want to check out the documents and scheduled events on the church website www.FusdNewSanctuary.org.

Immigration reform has not been one of my primary causes. Like all people, I only have so much time and energy and I have chosen to spend mine on other justice issues.  It is moving up the list, however, for the simple reason that someone has knocked on our door asking for sanctuary.  For me, the issue is very simple now.  Do we let this person in or turn this person away?  

I know for many of us, it isn’t that simple.  There has been a fair amount of anxiety about this. It manifests itself in concerns over zoning, process, safety, building codes, other existing obligations, insurance coverage etc.  Most of us are uncomfortable with the prospect of civil disobedience as we should be in a country of laws.  On the other hand, civil disobedience of unjust laws is both our heritage and our obligation as Unitarian Universalists.  Is this an instance where it is also necessary?   The Sanctuary group has worked so hard to address these concerns and give us all solid information to make good decisions. In the end, however, there is no sidestepping the fact that we are taking a risk.  We cannot expect to have all the answers or guarantees. Each of us will weigh the risks in respect to our different roles, careers, and obligations. 

In our daily lives, many of us call for immigration reform, but at the end of the day, most of us go home to our relatively safe and secure lives and console ourselves that we fought the good fight and we will try again tomorrow.  There isn’t much personal risk to us.  Becoming a Sanctuary church is still largely a symbolic act.  Our risk is still low, but now we are a little more invested.  The line between us and them blurs a little bit.  There is more us, less them.  That isn’t an opportunity to take lightly. 

Whatever the outcome of our June congregational vote, we at FUSD are in this together.  We are in covenant now and will be in covenant on June 2nd.   Nobody sought out this challenge, but the effort is squarely aligned with the commitment we made in the 2-year Immigration Justice project the Congregation approved last spring.  Many of us, Kate Burns, Chris Wheeler, Jim Harlin, Arnie Carter, Kat Parker, Carol Hildebrand, Melany Deem, Dan Johnson, Jeanne Abrams, Kathy Glatz, Kirsten Homblette, Rundell Brown, and our partners, Jennifer Piper, Homero Ocon, Guillermo Carballo, and Margie Thompson, put lives on hold and are living this effort around the clock.  Please remember to hold these good people in your hearts and thank them for their extraordinary work and efforts to help us live into our commitment to justice.

That said, it is also important that we recognize our vote will not be a rubber stamp on a fait accompli. These beloved members are working hard to put our congregation in the position to say yes to an urgent need.  But all of us, as members, need to come to the forums and eventually to the vote fully informed and bringing our own perspectives so that we can discern together what is the best path for our congregation to take.  We may not be able to arrive at a consensus decision. But we should have sufficiently strong support before we step forward to sustain us and our sanctuary guest through the journey.

It is very important that we bring our best selves to this process.  We will disagree.  We will have strong opinions.  The process, however, is just as important as the outcome.  We are given this opportunity to bring everything we know about loving kindness, covenant, non-violent communication, right relationships, etc. to the table and to do things right as well as do the right thing.

If, in the highly unlikely event that catastrophe rains down upon us we need to remember we will be okay.  We have each other.  Look around you at the brave and compassionate souls you walk with.  We have the wider UU community.  They are not going to abandon us. We stand in the tradition of our forbearers who adopted civil disobedience against unjust laws and saw them changed.  We have many allies from other faith traditions as well.  We are part of the interdependent web of all life. We are surrounded by people of inherent worth and dignity.  We must trust that we are held much like the person knocking at our door trusts to be held by us.

The board’s next significant item of business was a financial powwow with the Finance Council and Abundance teams.  We generated ideas about how to improve our financial picture between now and June when we set the budget. Our pledge returns are now at about 92% of budget and the gap is worrisome. Many pledge letters are not returned. We kicked around some of the whys; poor economy, lack of a centralized pledging message, lack of interaction around pledging, etc.  We also generated some ideas about what to try in the next few weeks.  If you cannot pledge it is really important for you to know that is okay; this economy has not been kind.  If, however, you are fortunate enough to have enough and more, please consider pledging to offset those who cannot. Thank you for all you do.  We have so many needs and dreams to fund in the coming year.

We did a little housekeeping including noting our decision to help the first two people to ask, Kathy Glatz and Jennifer Martin to go to GA.  The board contributed the last $200.00 in their budget to offset costs for these potential delegates.  Julie Meyers has also expressed an interest in being a delegate.  We are grateful for their interest in representing FUSD in the wider world. Anybody else?

Finally, we held our elections for the board president and vice president for next year.  Kathy Mitchell-Garton will be recommended to you as our next president and Jeanne Abrams as our next Vice President.