Sanctuary Church Movement

The following was taken from the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ COMMAntary e-newsletter, dated 2/24/17
Yes, MOVEMENT is indeed what is happening in our Conference when it comes to providing “Sanctuary” for immigrant families facing deportation.
The Sanctuary Movement traces its roots to the 1980s, when many congregations were led to provide housing and other assistance to Central American refugees who were being denied asylum by the United States.  Today the movement is experiencing a resurgence.  In 2016, 400 congregations of various traditions were “sanctuary congregations”; since the Presidential election, that number has increased to 800 nationwide. UCC congregations participating in the movement have gone from 15 last year to 50 most recently.

From the article, our own pastor, T. Michael Rock, was quoted…

Rev. T. Michael Rock of Robbinsdale UCC says: We became a Sanctuary Congregation in December 2014. We took this leap of faith with the support of Rev. John Gutterman and the MN Conference Immigration Team. We heard the stories of two families in our congregation who lived through a deportation experience and we vowed to do what we could as a congregation to not let that happen again. We feel blessed with many resources and relationships and feel that becoming a Sanctuary Congregation was central to our faith and understanding as people of Radical Hospitality in the United Church of Christ.

White Privilege: Let’s Talk

An Invitation to Transformational Dialogue

(5 weeks) Thursday evenings, beginning February 2nd @ 7pm
Led by: Revs. T. Michael Rock and Corii Varner

Do you

  • understand racial justice?
  • know what White Privilege is all about?
  • want to engage in a dialogue that isn’t about guilt?
  • want to work for racial equity?

We will provide a safe space for exploring these topics.

Our guide will be the curriculum from United Church of Christ, White Privilege: Let’s Talk (free download).

A Pastoral Letter From MN UCC Conference Minister

“We claim faith in a God who became incarnate and lived among us, who shared intimately in our suffering and  grief.  We believe in a God who brings resurrecting power to the most desperate places.  Let us witness to that faith now.  Let us bring that same manner of profound presence and transforming love to this moment in time. Pray for the families and friends of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, for communities filled with anger and despair, for the families of police officers killed and injured in Dallas last night, and for law enforcement here and everywhere.”

We witness with our presence, our care, and our concern.  Please take the time to read this pastoral letter from Shari Prestemon.

Orlando Tragedy : “This is a moment for our kind of faith — loving, passionate, and unifying.”

In response to last week’s horrific Orlando tragedy, Reverend Shari Prestemon, MN UCC Conference Minister, sent out the following to everyone who attended the annual conference:

June 14, 2016

Dear Minnesota Conference UCC,

Just days ago, 300 of us convened for the 54th Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Conference. On Saturday, Reverend Traci Blackmon called us to step into the breach to repair what is unjust and heal what is broken; she challenged us to step out onto the streets where such brokenness and injustice rage daily. Then on Sunday morning, as we gathered for celebration and worship together, we received the tragic news from Orlando. 49 children of God were killed in a LGBT nightclub by one hate-filled gunman. More than 50 others were injured, and across that Florida city and all over this nation scores of people were stunned by yet one more incident of mass gun violence.

We wept together Sunday morning, the last day of our gathering. We prayed. We lifted our laments to God. And then I preached of a fear that has taken our country and our churches hostage, and of a faith that calls us instead to undaunted courage.

We need that courage now more than ever, because the fear and anger and deep grief we feel in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre is viscerally real. We should indeed be angry. This was not a ‘random’ act of violence. This was violence specifically aimed at the LGBT community, a community that has for too long been the target of vicious hatred and violence. We should be angry that insufficient gun laws made it easy for someone who had actually been on the FBI’s watch list to get assault weapons and use them to express his twisted version of how the world should be.

But let us not let our anger — as justified as it is — be the last or only word. Let us not let our fears about a world that seems to be going stark raving mad paralyze our response. Instead let us raise a different voice, and witness to a different way.

Let us stand in the face of this hatred and violence and grief and speak of a God whose love is extravagant, whose welcome is wide. Let us declare that LGBT persons are precious children of God, made in God’s image, held in God’s bountiful grace. Let us refuse to fall prey to an interpretation of this horrific event that paints all Muslims as terrorists, and rather stand with our peace-loving Muslim neighbors in stubborn solidarity. Let us hold vigils and strengthen community and lift our prayers together. And let us sign petitions and preach sermons and join protests that signal our refusal to accept gun violence and gun worship as normative in our nation.

This is a moment for our kind of faith — loving, passionate, and unifying. This is a moment for courage.

Holding you in peace,

Reverend Shari Prestemon
Conference Minister

On Fire! In Love!

On Fire! In Love! was the theme of an ecumenical Pentecost worship Robbinsdale United Church of Christ hosted. In worship with us were two ecumenical partners, Nu Generation Gathering and Jesus is the Way Ministries International of the Twin Cities.  The worship featured song, dance, prayer, celebration, and communion. It was made possible in part through the support of the Calvin Institute and generous funding from the Lilly Endowment.


Robbinsdale United Church of Christ is a Sanctuary Congregation

As a community of faith, Robbinsdale United Church of Christ is committed to opening our doors to an immigrant family in need of sanctuary. We are open to this call at any time, day or night. We will do what the U.S. Congress has refused to do: protect immigrants from an immigration system that is separating families and deporting people who are woven into the fabric of their communities and congregations.

When we hear the cries of the people, we open ourselves up

This means that when we hear about this need, we would provide shelter, meals, and other basic needs. It may be for one day or, in rare events, a year. In any case, the more we sacrifice with this family, the more we learn about the capacity of God’s love and our hospitality. We can only do this with the support of the congregation, the wider church, and the open-hearted space of the Holy Spirit.

We also thank our partners in the Minnesota Conference UCC and the National Setting of the UCC who are willing to provide resources if, and when, a family came to need our congregation. When we hear the cries of the people, we open ourselves up to the sacrifice and love that comes with living our Gospel message.

Lent: The Season of YES

Sometimes our faith can get stuck.  Especially when we dwell on the “Thou Shalt Nots” and the “Don’ts.”  Some people experience this in Lent, when they come up with something they are going to “Go Without” or “Give Up,” like chocolate or sweets.

This Lent we are asking what you want to say YES to?  Where is God inviting you to grow?

Lent is a season of change, and change can be scary.  But ask yourself, what am I being called to say YES to.  What is that scary and wonderful thing I can dare to bring into my life?

The Rest of God

Foster J. Pinkney – There are people in the pews whose presence is an act of resistance. They had to lift the weight of mental illness and the burdens of marginalization. They had to overcome physical pain and disability. They had to wonder if they were entering a place of acceptance or a place of trauma. We need to recognize their pain and struggle in the way we claim God.

Sanctuary is more than a location; it is also a state of being.

Source: New Sacred, The Rest of God

Tell the Obama Administration: Stop the Raids on Central American Refugees | Groundswell

As people of faith and moral conscience, we are outraged by the Obama administration’s violation of human rights by using raids as a scare tactic against the immigrant community and deporting thousands of Central American refugees who entered the United States seeking asylum. We urge President Obama and his administration to respond to this crisis with moral courage: To stop the raids, provide legal counsel to immigrants and asylum seekers, close family detention centers where mothers and children are inhumanely held before deportation, and increase humanitarian aid to address the root causes of migration from Central America. In the tradition of Sanctuary, we pledge to resist these violations of human rights by offering up our voices, actions, and bodies to protect and stand with our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters.

Source: Tell the Obama Administration: Stop the Raids on Central American Refugees | Groundswell

Rev T Michael Rock Denounces January Immigration Raids as ‘Criminal’

In a January 5 United Church of Christ press release, Rev T Michael Rock, pastor of Robbinsdale United Church of Christ, denounced recent ICE raids as “criminal.”

In response to ICE round up of hundreds of undocumented immigrants for deportation, Rock condemned the raids and called on local congregations to offer sanctuary.

“What ICE is doing is criminal. These are people with lives and families, and it is our faith imperative to respond and offer hospitality,” he said. “People of faith have been doing that for 2,000 years.”

Rock added that his congregation is keeping immigrants at risk for deportation in its prayers, and will consider offering sanctuary if a family comes to its doorstep.

Read more at UCC churches offer sanctuary from January immigration raids

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: