Archive for Sanctuary

Ways to Support for Our Immigrant Communities

Dear Skyline Family,

The immigrant communities are facing an especially hard time during the pandemic but there are many community organizations coming together to help. As Skyline Church is a Sanctuary Church, the Justice and Witness team would like to offer ways to support the communities that we have been accompanying. Thank you for sharing with those among us who are in so much need.

The Maya Mam in Oakland organization is helping coordinate food distribution to the Mam community, including the Nueva Esperanza Preschool families. The Mandela Partners and the Alameda Food Bank have been providing food for distribution at Iglesia de Dios, Mam Church at 4500 International Blvd. Henry Sales, organizer, says they haven’t been able to get fruits, chicken, rice, beans, eggs, and milk. He’s working to partner with other organizations, as well  as getting a nonprofit designation. Monetary donations will be used to buy food for distribution and  materials (masks, gloves, and sanitizer) for volunteers. On-line donations can be made HERE.

If you prefer to write a check, please contact Mirtha through the church office, office@skylineucc.org.

The Centro Legal de La Raza, along with six community partners, created the Oakland Undocumented Relief Fund for Oakland immigrant workers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Donations can be by check or online HERE.

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity has set up a Migrant Emergency Fund which helps recently arrived immigrants, formerly detained and incarcerated folks, and other immigrants encountering urgent survival needs due to the severe economic impact of COVID-1.   

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant continues to support clients by phone, providing up-to-date information about their legal cases and social services. Action items to support the immigrant population are listed on their website.  

Save the date for a zoom discussion on Monday, May 18th at 7 pm with Pastor Laurie,  Nancy Taylor and myself! More details to follow!

Join Zoom Meetinghttps://zoom.us/j/241524878  Meeting ID: 241 524 878, or call 510 421 2646

Thank you! Mirtha N., co-chair, Justice & Witness

Thanksgiving – Whatever our Race or Religion, We are One Family

When you hear the word “Thanksgiving,” what comes to mind?  As a child,  the word immediately brought to my mind’s eye a huge turkey, roasted golden brown. I saw potatoes, stuffing, peas and onions, gravy, and of course pumpkin pie.  I saw children and parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles happily gathered around the table. I was unaware that everyone was white, just like the famous Norman Rockwell painting.  
 
But then I learned more about the Pilgrims and Wampanoags gathered around the table at the first Thanksgiving feast, and that fleeting moment of peace, friendship and mutual gratitude..But through the years, new images come to mind: 
  • Native Americans amassing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for a National Day of Mourning—mourning for their ancestors and the theft of their lands. 
  • Undocumented children being separated from their parents at the border of this country. 
  • Trans women, fleeing the violence of their countries, seeking safety in this country, only to be brutalized and left to die in detention camps.  
  • The faces of so many others in our times, who like the Pilgrims,  come to this land seeking freedom from violence and oppression, shelter, a new home, and a new life. 
Today, I want to lift up gratitude for this congregation for choosing, in our words and actions, to become a sanctuary congregation.
 
Whatever our nation or race or religion or language we are all one family, and we have to help one another. 
 
Join us this Sunday, as we lift up the theme of gratitude.   

Skyline Votes Yes to Be A Sanctuary Church – Jan 21, 2018

Since President Trump has been in office, ICE  reports  that arrests are up 40%. However, the president’s policy has also inspired a renewed resistance, of which our denomination – the UCC, and Skyline are a part. 
 
On Sunday, January 21st  Skyline Community Church, UCC unanimously voted to become a sanctuary congregation to advocate, support, and stand with immigrants facing urgent situations.
 
As an inclusive, progressive Christian community, Skyline upholds the sacredness of each person, and advocates for the rights of immigrants.  Over the past few years, volunteers from Skyline have provided education, advocacy, donations, and accompaniment to immigrant families in need. Our hope is to offer even more support in the future. 
 
The most recent threat about an ICE sweep in Northern California is part of a larger anti-immigrant movement, rooted in xenophobia and racism.  800,000 young people with DACA could also be at risk for deportation and separation from their families.  Immigrants are a vital part of our communities, and the breaking up of immigrant families is one of the most critical social justice issues of our time.
 
By voting for this resolution, Skyline denounces this latest threat against the well-being of our communities. While Skyline is not offering physical sanctuary, if the threatened ICE sweep is implemented, our Justice and Witness Team is committed to finding ways in which we can offer support to protect the families whose safety and well-being is being endangered. Now is the time to come together and act on our sacred values of compassion and justice. 
 
At our best, as followers of Jesus, we are supporting a countercultural vision of our world, which Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven. At our best, we are supporting the thriving of a real sanctuary. We are a sanctuary for people of different genders, races, backgrounds and ethnicities who are rightly afraid today. We are a sanctuary for all those bonded to them in love. We are a sanctuary for change makers. So many of us in this community are working in one way or another for the most vulnerable and for the delicate ecosystems that sustain life itself. From my vantage point as a minister, seeing the outpouring of energy and commitment from all of you in recent months, I know that this congregation is a powerful force for good in this world.
 
We lift up a different image of God – God as compassion, God as love, God as friend, God as the power of liberation for the oppressed; God who became one of us, born as a refugee, and born in a barn stable much like the story of so many undocumented people in this world, and in this country; born as a nobody from nowhere, whom we remember and we follow 2,000 years later.  
 
Thank you Skyline, for your faith in action.  I invite you to read this article about ways Skyline is already taking action for inspiration.  
 
With love, Pastor Laurie, Nancy Taylor, Mirtha Langewis-Ninayahuar and the Justice and Witness Team

Skyline Votes on Becoming a Sanctuary Church

Congregational Meeting to Consider Sanctuary Movement Vote

Sun, Jan 21 • 11:30 am

When an immigrant resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the immigrant. The immigrant who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the immigrant as yourself, for you were an immigrant in the land of Egypt. (Jewish and Christian Tradition, Leviticus 19:33-34)

Dear Ones, 

The Church Council has called a meeting of the congregation on Sunday, Jan 21 at 11:30 am to formally establish Skyline Church, United Church of Christ as a Sanctuary Congregation.

I want to extend my deepest thanks to the leadership and dedication of Mirtha Ninayahuar, and Nancy Taylor. 

The meeting will take place in the Sanctuary immediately following the 10 am service. During the past year, the council and the congregation heard from members of the Planning Team for the Sanctuary Movement about what declaring itself as a “Sanctuary Congregation” would mean for Skyline. 
 
Evolving Definition of Sanctuary 

The Sanctuary Movement, which began in the 1980s, is experiencing a resurgence. But today it has a slightly different meaning. Originally it was a movement of churches and political activists to shelter Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict and trying to avoid deportation. It has since expanded to “a broader range of thinking by faith communities as to how they can be helpful to communities of undocumented persons.” See this description below, which includes the 4 categories of being a sanctuary.  Here are sanctuary activities Skyline is already involved in.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/irjfoqt6ing7n9o/Revised%20final%20resolution%20July%202017%202%20after%20edits.doc?dl=0

 Some churches are part of the movement by offering resources, such as food and supplies, while others will provide education and advocacy and accompaniment, and still others, rapid response, and still others, housing for undocumented persons. Any one or more of these 4 categories constitutes being a sanctuary church. We are involved in all areas except providing physical housing. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Would we be breaking the law? “There is a law against bringing in and harboring persons not authorized to be in the U.S. (INA Sec.274). Some courts have interpreted harboring to require concealment of a person, when we declare Sanctuary for an individual we are bringing them into the light of the community, not concealing them in the dark of secrecy (U.S. V Costello, 66 F.3d 1040, 7th Cir. 2012). Other courts have interpreted harboring to be simple sheltering (U.S. V Acosta de Evans, 531 F.2d 428 (9th Cir. 1976)… To date no one has ever been arrested for offering Sanctuary.” – From the New Sanctuary Toolkit 
  2. What prevents ICE from entering a church to execute a deportation order? There is nothing that categorically prevents ICE from entering a church, however there is an existing Memo (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/ero-outreach/pdf/10029.2-policy.pdf) that advises officers and agents to avoid “sensitive locations” including schools, hospitals, churches, and the site of a public demonstration. 
  3. Why not just keep on doing service, why bother voting?   Voting offers political strength to the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, as well as to the state of California that have voted to become sanctuary. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-sanctuary-state_us_59ce7423e4b05f005d341453  Voting represents another form of spiritual courage and resistance to laws which punish hardworking civic minded people who are contributing to our cities and states. 
  4. Who are the members of the Sanctuary Movement Planning Team?
    Contact Mirtha Ninayahuar, Nancy Taylor, Rev Laurie Manning 
  5. What other faith congregations in the Bay area are sanctuary?  http://www.im4humanintegrity.org/sanctuary-map-northern-california/
  6. Other Resources?
    1. Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
    2. United Church of Christ Resources on Sanctuary
    3. National Sanctuary website and toolkit

 We look forward to your attendance at this important milestone in Skyline’s history on January 21 at 11:15 AM

Thank you,

Pastor Laurie

 

 

Sanctuary Church Vote April 2

Subject:     Informational Resource to Prepare

Members to Vote on April 2, 2017

On the Resolution to Become a Sanctuary Church

Dear Friends,

Your Skyline UCC Council has resolved that on Sunday, April 2, 2017, immediately following our 10:00 service, we hold a special meeting to vote on the Resolution below:

Proposed Resolution

That the Skyline Community Church declare itself a Sanctuary Church committed to protecting, supporting and advocating for those being targeted by the current administration such as immigrants, refugees, Muslims, women, Black Lives Matter activists, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community.

As such, we share the goals of the current Sanctuary Movement:

  1. Make Visible the Invisible – giving a voice to those who have no voice – and revealing the unjust suffering of millions of families (bearing the image of God) at the hands of the immigration system.
  2. Inspire members of congregations to raise their voices to call for public policy to address the needs of these families.
  3. Heal the trauma experienced by families facing the wave of anti-­immigrant sentiment.  We will support and/or actively engage in one or more of the following activities:

Physical Sanctuary for someone facing Final Deportation:

  • Discern if your congregation would be willing to offer Sanctuary for a person facing final deportation orders in a humanitarian emergency. Most often, these are people who have been long term residents, already have children, family and community ties to the area and have exhausted all other legal options to remain with their family here in the United States.
  • By offering Sanctuary, your congregation is willing to offer physical sanctuary on religious property, as a way to protect them from the reach of ICE.  Your congregation would be supported by other congregations and community groups committing to be part of a local network of Sanctuary by assisting with hospitality, protection, and advocacy.

Accompaniment of Immigrant Families or Youth: 

Individuals and congregations can immediately help accompany immigrants in urgent situations and need of accompaniment.  This can include newly arrived migrant families, unaccompanied minors, people facing deportation crisis, those just released from detention centers.  Trained volunteers can help to provide courtroom accompaniment, access to services, and concrete and emotional support and/or transitional housing to help those in a period of crisis.

Advocacy:

  • Advocate at the Local, State and National level for policies which protect the due process of immigrants and promote their full dignity and integration into our local communities.
  • Advocating for policies which help to prevent mass deportation and fear by creating clear separation between ICE and local law enforcement and civic institutions, for example strong sanctuary city and county policies.
  • Engage in local public actions and activities to shift public discourse towards immigrants, Muslims, and refugees, and bring attention to our responsibility to address root causes.

Networks of Protection & Rapid Response

  • Join a Rapid Response Network to respond to ICE workplace raids, home raids or other enforcement activity.
  • Connect with targeted communities to help develop relationship and networks of protection.

Note:   It is not necessary to commit to or perform all of the four actions described above to fulfill the Sanctuary objectives.

In depth information has been identified by our Champions for Justice – Nancy Taylor and Mirtha Ninayahuar.   The links to this information are as follows:

This meeting is not intended to be “informational” and, therefore we are assuming that the congregation will have taken advantage of the various informational resources made available the two weeks preceding the meeting.  We will, of course, answer any lingering questions you might have.

We need to personally discern the admonition to act with compassion.

What does the Lord require of you?  But to do justice, and to love kindness, and to work humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8).

We prayerfully look forward to the April 2, 2017 Resolution Action Meeting.

David Byrens

Skyline UCC Moderator