Becoming a Sanctuary Congregation – Vote on August 27th

Dear Foothills friends and members,

While the blatant hatred and racism displayed in Charlottesville on Saturday left me feeling helpless and despairing, our time together yesterday morning engaging the questions of becoming a sanctuary congregation brought me to gratitude, and resolve.  It is a privilege to serve a community that is engaging in such important and compassionate work.  

If you missed the service yesterday, you can catch the sermon from the Rev. Mike Morran on this video.  It was a powerful exploration and charge for us to get real and serious about this very real opportunity before us.  As I shared on Sunday, our partners at the American Friends Service Committee have already approached us about a potential guest for our congregation, a woman seeking sanctuary with us.

She has six children, age 3 to 17, all US citizens, and she also cares for her niece. She has been in the US for over 20 years after immigrating from Guatemala, and other than minor traffic violation in 2005 that brought her into deportation hearings, she has never committed a crime.  Without sanctuary from a faith community, her deportation will occur within the next month.

This process reminds me so much of my process of adopting my children – who were adopted through foster care.  As with then, there’s the timeline you have in mind, and then there’s the reality of receiving a call.  We did not anticipate having this possibility looming as we were reaching these two weeks of discernment, but also, this is how it sometimes works when you begin to be in relationship with those doing the on-the-ground-work of immigration justice.  

Our work now is to decide if a) we feel it is our congregation’s mission to be a sanctuary congregation and accept someone into sanctuary; and if yes b) to get the space, people, systems and finances ready to go to be able to do this.  

A lot of the initial groundwork was laid in yesterday’s service and workshop after the service.  If you missed the workshop, please plan to attend the workshop on August 23rd at 6:00.  You can sign up here.  If you can’t make that but want more information, or if you want to start reading up on our process and plans, check out this Q&A, this summary of our application process, and this resource describing our partners in this work.  

Most of all, we hope you will join us on the 27th for the vote at 11:30.  Please see this letter from the Board describing the details of our vote, the percentage required for a “yes,” and other information on the meeting.

Thank you for taking up this important conversation, and for continuing to travel this path of justice and compassion together.

 

In partnership,

Rev. Gretchen

Congregational Meeting on Becoming a Sanctuary Church

August 14, 2017

Dear Members and Friends,

There will be an important Congregational Meeting on Sunday August 27 at 11:30 AM to consider a resolution to designate Foothills Unitarian Church as a Sanctuary Congregation. The meeting will include a lot of very valuable information about what this means, how it works, and the conditions and limitations we’ve proposed.

According to our Bylaws, those who have been members for 30 days or more can vote, meaning you would need to have “signed the book” by July 29, 2017. A three-fourths majority of those present is required for us to proceed.

The text of the resolution on which we’ll vote is as follows:

With our policies and procedures in place, as well as the established Guidelines and Limitations set by the Board of Trustees, the Foothills Unitarian Church affirms the following statement:

As people of faith and conscience, we pledge to resist any policies that target and/or deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities. We will open up our congregation and community as a sanctuary space and accompany our immigrant neighbors in their journey for justice and safety.  We will work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to ensure the dignity and human rights of all people.  We hereby designate ourselves as a Sanctuary Congregation, aligning ourselves with the traditions and practices of the New Sanctuary Movement and affirming our willingness to receive a guest seeking sanctuary into our congregation and to provide hospitality support for them during their stay.

Before the vote, there will be a series of presentations and opportunities for discussion and questions, as well as some very informative handouts.

Please come to this important meeting and urge your friends and family to attend as well.

 

Sincerely,

Your Board of Trustees

 

Skin in the Game

In the service last Sunday, I said our theology of social justice requires that we ask ourselves: what are we willing to risk, and what’s our skin in the game? In the coming weeks, our congregation has the chance to really wrestle with these questions.
It’s been four months since our Sanctuary Team lit the chalice and invited us to start considering the question of becoming a  Sanctuary Congregation. Since then they’ve held forums and informational sessions, reached out to the interfaith and immigrant community, and met extensively with First Unitarian in Denver where they’ve hosted two people in sanctuary.
From this work, and with my full support and appreciation, they brought forward the invitation to the Board to set a special congregational meeting for us to vote on becoming a Sanctuary Congregation.  After two in-depth conversations with the Board, they whole-heartedly agreed.
Which means, it’s finally time to get serious in our conversations with our whole community.  We want to help us all consider what sanctuary means, and if and how we are called to be a Sanctuary Congregation. We want to review what we’ve learned about the risks and the ways to mitigate these risks, even as we recognize that part of what we are called to do – as I said before – is to take risks on behalf of justice, and on behalf of our faith.
With all that in mind, I invite you all to the following opportunities to learn more, to share and discuss together, and for us to decide together, where and how we are called as a congregation in this important path of caring, justice, and courageous love.
  • Sunday, August 13th 8:30 and 10:00 service, “Just Home,” led by the Rev. Mike Morran, First Unitarian Society of Denver, leaders in the Sanctuary movement in the Denver metro area
  • Sunday, August 13th at 11:30 am, following the second service, Informational Workshop on Sanctuary, led by the Sanctuary Team and Foothills staff team – answering all the questions anyone can come up with, talking practical details, sharing in group discernment.  Register to attend this workshop here.
  • Wednesday, August 23rd at 6:30 pm, a 2nd opportunity for the same information provided at the 8/13 Informational Workshop for those who weren’t able to attend, or who want additional info
  • Sunday, August 27th, Special Congregational Meeting at 11:30 am, following the second service, called for the sole purpose of voting on the question “Will Foothills Unitarian Church be designated as a Sanctuary Congregation?” All those who have been members for 30 days or more by 8/27 are welcome to vote.
If you were there on Sunday, you heard the story of Juan, a father of five in the Greeley area who was recently and suddenly deported. While we don’t know for sure, Juan is someone who seems like would’ve been a great candidate for sanctuary – but we weren’t ready.  The need is increasingly urgent to take up this question, and I am grateful for your willingness and partnership as we consider it together.
*This post was originally sent out as a part of the 8/2 Weekly Extra

New Database Part Two: Groups

Last week I wrote about the ways our new database Planning Center Online (PCO) will impact the ways we do Giving at Foothills. This week my focus is on Groups!

TL/DR: New online group directory for all church groups. Information on group activities now can be found on their individual group pages.

Groups

At last count, Foothills has over 60 official groups, ministries, and teams. Before now, keeping track of them all, let alone making it easy to learn about and connect with them, was a challenge. One of the key features of our new database is an online infrastructure to support our church’s groups. Here is what I am most excited about:

  • Our new online group directory showcases all the groups in one place. It also allows you all to request to be added to groups that are open to new members.
  • Group pages contain essential information including: descriptions, meeting times and dates, and contact information.
  • Group leaders can now easily see who is in their group, communicate with them all by email, and create events for all group members to see.
  • Private Groups allow only group members to see the information about group activities and members.
  • Public groups allow the whole church to get excited and involved in your events.

Many of you are involved in many different groups – by logging into your account via the group directory, you can see and access all the groups you are part of, include some private groups that only members of those groups can access.

As the year rolls on we will no doubt be learning more about our new system and be sharing with you more information. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. For questions regarding Giving please contact Carolyn Myers, our church administrator (carolyn@foothillsuu.org); questions about Groups can be directed to me, Sean Neil-Barron (sean@foothillsuu.org)