A sanctuary is a place of refuge or safety. What it would mean for the Diocese of El Camino Real to become a “Sanctuary Diocese?” The 2017 Diocesan Convention asked the Sanctuary Task Force to explore this question.
Other dioceses have already declared themselves to be sanctuary dioceses. They have no single, precise definition for “Sanctuary Diocese.” Each diocese and, separately, each congregation must decide if and how they want to engage in the sanctuary movement.
In July, the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed Resolution 2018-C009, “Becoming a Sanctuary Church.” While not declaring the Episcopal Church as a sanctuary church, the resolution urges members of the church to challenge unjust immigration laws and calls on congregations to become places of welcome, refuge, and healing and to provide other forms of material and pastoral support.
In general, becoming a sanctuary diocese involves encouraging congregations to become sanctuary churches and providing resources for that purpose. Becoming a sanctuary church is a process involving several steps. First, congregations need resources to become better informed about the issues facing immigrants to the United States and the theological basis for congregations to become involved. The diocese can make these resources available. Second, congregations can take a stand as a group to be active in the Sanctuary Movement. Effective advocacy requires that people work together for the desired changes.
Third, congregations can partner with other organizations, both faith-based and secular, and become part of the sanctuary movement. And finally, congregations can provide assistance to those in need through legal information and assistance, accompaniment to court, assistance navigating the US legal system, and possibly physical refuge. Our full report outlines what is required and provides links to resources for the diocese and congregations.
The Sanctuary Task Force Report outlines what’s required to become a sanctuary diocese and provides links to resources for the diocese and congregations.
The Sanctuary Task Force is also sponsoring Resolution D for the Diocesan Convention in October. This resolution affirms the resolution adopted by General Convention and authorizes the task force to facilitate dialogue in support of the general convention resolution.