Adopted January 6, 2019
“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 immigrants in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
“When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger you welcomed me...” (Matthew 25:35)
“‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)
BE IT RESOLVED, that Friends Congregational Church UCC, College Station, TX, declares itself an “Immigrant Welcoming Congregation.”
In making this declaration, we covenant and commit ourselves to the Word of God concerning the practices of Christian hospitality, protection, and advocacy alongside and on behalf of the immigrant and refugees in our community. Together, we will continue to develop practices and programs that facilitate the respectful welcome and inclusion of immigrants into our congregation and community.
We make this covenant understanding that it is grounded in scripture and our faith. God, the Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit, calls upon all people of faith to support our immigrant sisters and brothers.
We make this covenant recognizing that the world is in the midst of a long-term refugee crisis with millions of God’s people displaced, seeking safety, security, freedom and opportunity. We also recognize many immigrants continue to fear raids, deportation and the disintegration of their families.
Our efforts and ministries may include but are not limited to:
Providing physical sanctuary and public advocacy for individuals approved by the process designated by the congregation. To be considered for sanctuary, the individual(s) must fill the following criteria:
Live in the Bryan/College Station community
Imminent deportation threatens their family's unity or personal safety
Have legal representation
Reasonable chance of having a positive resolution to their deportation order
Providing spiritual support through regular prayer and discernment on behalf of our immigrant neighbors.
Hosting educational events for the edification of our fellowship and community related to these issues.
Our efforts will not include any of the following:
Providing “cover” or harbor for individuals suspected or convicted of a violent crime as defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
Providing support for individuals residing in the U.S. without proper documentation when there is no clear or present threat to the unity of a family or personal safety.
The process we will follow will include, but not be limited to:
Approval of individual(s) by above criteria. Given that decisions need to occur very quickly, the Ad Hoc Sanctuary Committee proposes that a small committee consisting of Pastors and Moderator or Vice-Moderator be empowered to decide if an individual seeking sanctuary fits the criteria set out previously and be given sanctuary.
Make a public announcement to officials, authorities, and community through a media campaign of our decision to provide sanctuary to an individual under threat of deportation.
Background: As a denomination and a people of faith, Congregationalists and members of the United Church of Christ have been involved in historically broadening the circle of inclusion, from the abolition of slavery to full inclusion of our LGBTQ family and, more recently, the plight of immigrants and refugees. As early as 1981, the UCC General Synod issued the pronouncement, “Justice in Immigration.” In 2016, the UCC National Collaborative on Immigration called on all its members and congregations to become active “Immigrant Welcoming Congregations and Communities” as part of the UCC’s continuing effort to be a prophetic voice to humanize the immigrant in the United States and normalize migration as a global human right.
While we acknowledge the importance of our nation’s immigration laws as they relate to the safety and stability of our community, we are also deeply concerned with the integrity of families, the welfare of children and parents, and the security and protection of our sisters and brothers fleeing warfare, persecution, and state violence.