Yesterday ABC News published a story of a woman and her children taking refuge in Denver’s First Unitarian Church to evade impending deportation. The story states that ICE authorities typically do not enter places of worship, making the church a place of sanctuary for Jeanette Vizguerra and her children. This is not a new phenomenon, but the attention that Vizguerra is receiving has allowed the “sanctuary church” idea to reenter the conversation. Obviously when a church takes such a firm stand against the federal government, there will be those who celebrate the church for acting in line with Jesus’ teachings, and there will be others who blast the church for not respecting the governing authorities (you know, like Paul said). So what should our churches be — sanctuary churches or state churches? Do we demonstrate our allegiance to Jesus by housing and caring for the vulnerable no matter their legal status, or by upholding the law of the land no matter its justice status? What kind of church will we be?
The ABC story describes Vizguerra and her children gathered around the church altar. What a beautiful place for the afflicted and vulnerable to gather — at the very place where bread is broken and wine is poured, at the very table of the Lord. Will we let our undocumented brothers and sisters be sent off to other places, or will we call them inside to find refuge at the Lord’s table?
Is your church a sanctuary church? Tell us about it below in the comment section. Have serious questions about whether the church should be doing this sort of thing? Ask them in the comment section as well.