During these uncertain times, we want to join with others to respond to injustice by strengthening community and responding to injustice in its many forms.  Here are some ways you can put your Unitarian Universalist faith and its principles into action this week, and every week.

IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES.  The administration’s issuance of a new executive order mandating the roundup of immigrants who may or may not be undocumented has caused great distress and fear within the immigrant communities,  especially for Latinos who are already seeing families torn apart as family members are seized by ICE agents.

ACTION:   Latino Legislative Day is taking place on the Capital Campus all day Monday, with a rally at noon on the Capitol steps.  Join them!  You can find the schedule for the lobby day at http://www.latinocivicalliance.com/

Several of our local religious community leaders have come together to express their solidarity with immigrants, refugees, and other persons who feel targeted for their ethnicity, religion,  and/or skin color.  We felt an urgency to do so, since the new executive order will be announced in the next few days.  Here is their statement:

HONORING RELIGIOUS SANCTUARY

At this time in our nation’s history, each of us is called to affirm our profound commitment to the fundamental principles of justice, equity and compassion, to truth and core values of American society. In the face of looming threats to refugees, immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes, we as religious leaders affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and declare opposition to any and all unjust government actions to round up and deport individuals in this country.

As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action by recognizing the right of religious communities to offer sanctuary and to stand with the most vulnerable among us. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, sanctuary is one way for faith communities to resist the divisive and racially charged immigration policies the current administration seeks to enact.

 

A Short History of Sanctuary

A Sanctuary congregation is one willing to physically shelter an immigrant in danger of immediate deportation and embodies that faith community’s commitment to justice by providing safe space to those who are victims of unjust laws.  Sanctuary is grounded in core religious truths that celebrate diversity, advocate racial justice, honor the dignity of each person, and help create the world we envision.

The idea of Sanctuary is first found in Scripture, in which cities were designated as safe havens to protect people from unjust punishment. Sanctuary was recognized in ancient Roman law.  In medieval England sanctuary was recognized as a legal procedure within both the law of the church and secular law, providing the accused criminals due process for determining guilt or enabling them to leave the country in safety.  In the United States sanctuary was exercised in the “Underground Railroad” which provided refuge and protection for fugitive slaves. In the 1980s, churches helped refugees from the U.S.-sponsored Central American wars enter the country.  The refugees were provided sanctuary by way of shelter, medical care, employment and legal representation. 

Several decades later, beginning in 2007, the New Sanctuary Movement took shape among coalitions of congregations in major cities throughout the country. As immigration raids in neighborhoods and work places escalated in a climate of political paralysis for immigration reform, these congregations opened their doors to provide refuge to those facing deportation.  Under a policy set by the Obama administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are supposed to avoid churches and other “sensitive locations.”

THEREFORE, as faith community leaders, we call upon our public officials and all citizens to acknowledge and respect the long tradition of sanctuary, and we stand in solidarity with faith communities both locally and nationally that have taken the steps necessary to provide sanctuary and support for those seeking protection.

 

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SANCTUARY CHURCHES.  In the face of the growing threat of roundups of immigrants in our communities, faith communities have expressed interest in learning about the process of becoming a Sanctuary Church. This is a process that involves the whole congregation and would include several conversations to understand the full meaning of offering sanctuary.  The UUA has prepared a toolkit for interested congregations; it can be found at:  http://www.uua.org/immigration/witness/partners/newsanctuary .  UUSC has put together a page of resources:  Solidarity & Sanctuary: Options for Congregational Action  at  http://uucsj.org/solidarity-sanctuary-options-for-congregational-action/

Sunday, March 5, 12:30 pm, at OUUC.  WELCOMING CONGREGATION REVISITED.  In the early 1990s, OUUC earned its designation as a Welcoming Congregation, which means that leadership and members show sensitivity and inclusiveness to persons of all gender identities. In the several decades since then, understandings of gender, sexuality, and identity have evolved and expanded. Yet some of our language and practices (i.e. restroom labeling, awareness of gender identity pronoun use, and a deeper understanding of human sexuality) have not evolved.

We want to be a radically hospitable church, truly welcoming to all, and OUUC’s Faith in Action Ministry would like to make that happen!  The Unitarian Universalist Association has updated its Welcoming Congregation materials to reflect today’s reality, and I am inviting interested persons to be part of a team to: 1. look at our original Welcoming Congregation document, and 2. lay the groundwork for expanding the congregation’s understanding of what Welcoming Congregation means today.

Our first meeting is Sunday, Mar. 5, following the second service. Join us, and be part of the change at OUUC. Oh, yes – food will be available!
OUUC AND RESULTS COLLABORATE IN ADVOCACY WORK.   On Presidents’ Day Seattle University Black Lives Matter Immersion met with WA Legislators, using their informed respectful voices to lobby about an issue that matters greatly to them. They’ve learned that using their own experiences to craft their asks about SB 5073/HB 1529, Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing is a prescription for success.

In collaboration with the Black Alliance of Thurston County, RESULTS volunteers and OUUC members/friends JoAnn Young, Woody Moore, Marie Johantgen and Nancy Curtiss joined facilitator Carolyn Prouty for the Feb. 19th training session.

 

CROP WALK.  Planning is underway for the 37th Annual Thurston County Crop Walk on Sunday, May 7, 12:30 pm.  You can walk or run to raise funds supporting local and international hunger relief.  This year’s Walk will also support the Refugee Program operated by Church World Service. As everyone who has participated in Crop Walk over the years, it is not only good exercise for a good cause but a lot of fun!

Tom Best is OUUC’s contact for Crop Walk this year (Thank you, Pat Perry, for serving in that role for several years!)  Tom will have Walker Sheets for signing up participants and collecting donations, so you can pick up your Walker Sheet at the Faith in Action table in the Commons soon.  Look for Tom and the Crop Walk logo!

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Monday, March 13,  4-5:30 pm, at  OUUC.   JUSTICE BUILDING INNOVATOR Julia Cochrane invites OUUC members and friends to talk about passions and engagement around social and environmental justice issues. She will also discuss how our statewide and national organizations, WA UU Voices for Justice, NW UU Justice Network, and UU Service Committee, can be greater resources for WA UUs. Her work is sponsored by the UUSC.

Thursday, March 16, 3-5 pm, at Lacey Timberland Library, 500 College St., Lacey.  BUILDING UNDERSTANDING IN CHALLENGING TIMES.  The Dispute Resolution Center and the Lacey Timberland Library invite you to a free communication and conflict resolution workshop that will focus on communication tools to help participants deepen their understanding of, and identify common ground with, those who have different perspectives, opinions, and experiences.   For more information, call 360/491-3860.

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 1-4 PM, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1601 North St. Olympia.

PRESENTATION ON THE REFUGEE PROGRAM of Lutheran Community Services,  Co-sponsored by OUUC’s Faith in Action Ministry and Good Shepherd Lutheran, this is an opportunity to learn more about refugee settlement programs, and how we can support this work.  More information on the workshop will be forthcoming.

Rev. Carol McKinley, faithinactionministry@ouuc.org