It is well known that the United States immigration system has been broken for a long time. There are a lot of different perspectives on how to fix the system; however, there does not appear to be any resolution in the near future. As a faith organization, we do not feel that people should be charged criminally for the natural movement of migration. Because of this, the Sanctuary Action Team was created at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ.

The New Sanctuary Movement is comprised of various faith communities, people of conscience and advocacy groups across the United States. They all work together to amplify the voices of the individuals affected by the current immigration system and creates a non-violent approach to support these individuals.

What is Sanctuary?

Sanctuary is a faith response to the needs of the immigrant community. It is a unique opportunity for the faith community to do what Congress and the Administration have failed to do: protect and stand with immigrants facing deportation. Churches open their doors and provide a living space to an individual and/or family that is facing deportation. The purpose is to provide additional time for their case to process through the legal channels. The length of stay can vary dependent upon the different details in their legal case. If a church is unable to provide a living space, they have the opportunity to serve in a support role. They are able to provide spiritual care, meet physical needs (i.e. laundry, grocery shopping, etc.) and be a companion.

This is our sanctuary candle. It is lit and kept in the window whenever we have a guest in sanctuary.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did you become a Sanctuary Church?

We prefer to think of ourselves as “a church that offers sanctuary” and we began doing so in 2014.

How many sanctuary guests do you have?

There are four sanctuary cases we are currently connected with. Two of them are living in out the community, and the other two are staying in sanctuary on our campus. Because we walk with our neighbors for the whole of their journey, we consider all four to be our current sanctuary guests, whether they are physically residing with us or not. We know circumstances can change at any time, and we are prepared to accommodate our friends as needed.

Where do these cases come from?

Contrary to popular belief, we do not hang out on the border, and bring whomever we like into sanctuary as soon as they cross. The four individuals we currently serve have all been living in America for years, if not decades. Their attorneys contacted us on their behalf to inquire about sanctuary.

Um, should you be telling us that you're hiding people in your church?

No, because we’re not hiding anyone. When we bring a guest into sanctuary, we notify ICE, and even hold a press conference. Our guests remain on our campus while they’re in sanctuary, but we’re not squirreling them away in the choir loft.

What is the history of the sanctuary movement?

Sanctuary was a movement that began in the 1980’s which provided safe passage for immigrants fleeing violence in Central America. It closely followed an ancient tradition in different faith communities and was similar to instances of history, such as, the Underground Railroad during the Civil War and hiding Jewish individuals and families during World War II.

What can I do to help?

Contact us to see what opportunities are available. There are a lot of needs and we are sure there is something that would fit your interests. You may email us at sanctuarymovement@shadowrockucc.org

The Immigrant Issues Fund at Shadow Rock was established to promote immigration reform and designate money away from the general church operating budget for such work. More information can be found on our Special Funds Page. Contributions are always welcome.

Media Coverage