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Diocese of California considers sanctuary status

Diocese of California considers sanctuary status

The Rt Revd Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of the Diocese of California, is co-hosting an evening to explore

what it might mean–legally, logistically, and spiritually–for individual churches and/or the entire diocese to become sanctuaries for vulnerable Bay Area residents.

From the press release:


Who: The Rt. Rev Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California
Dr. Russell Jeung, sociologist at SF State and author of At Home in Exile
Dozens of clergy and lay leaders from the Episcopal Diocese of California

What: Following the Diocese of California’s March 21 Executive Council meeting, Bishop Andrus will convene a program that will include conversations about whether the diocese should officially declare itself a sanctuary for refugees and undocumented immigrants. “At a time when all of us are wondering how best to welcome and protect our immigrant and refugee neighbors, this evening is a chance to have a rich discussion around what it means to be a sanctuary,” said Andrus.

The evening will begin with a presentation by SF State professor Russell Jeung, author of At Home in Exile: Finding Jesus among my Ancestors & Refugee Neighbors. Following a Q&A segment with Jeung, the evening will continue with expanded discussions what it might mean–legally, logistically, and spiritually–for individual churches and/or the entire diocese to become sanctuaries for vulnerable Bay Area residents.

Where: Iglesia Episcopal de Santiago/St. James Episcopal Church; 1540 12th Avenue, Oakland

When: Tuesday, March 21; 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. (book discussion); 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. (sanctuary discussion)

An article in the Los Angeles Daily News published over the weekend interviews members of churches and faith communities in the nearby Diocese of Los Angeles, highlighting some of the challenges that California might discuss at tonight’s meeting.

For some, the possibility of losing congregants is a real concern. Rev. Paul Elder said several members of Saint Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Malibu, where he serves as a deacon, have left the church at least partly because of the sanctuary issue.

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, which includes nearly 150 congregations from Santa Maria to San Juan Capistrano, passed a resolution in December declaring itself a “Sanctuary Diocese,” saying it would resist efforts to target and deport undocumented immigrants. It is up to each congregation, however, to determine how such resistance should be enacted. While Saint Aidan’s so far has not been active on the sanctuary issue, Elder believes the diocese’s declaration, along with his personal activism on the issue, was a “final straw” for some members. …

Rev. Susie Fowler, deacon of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glendale, said her church has unanimous consent from its governing board to participate in whatever way church leaders deem fit when it comes to helping the undocumented. That could include housing, she said, “if it comes down to that.”

While she expects her politically mixed congregation to offer some dissent, she’s fine with that.

“It is to be handled with much care, much love and much compassion and also courage and strength,” Fowler said.

Find details of tonight’s event in Oakland at the Diocese of California website.

Featured image: from the cover of Russell Jeung, At Home in Exile, cover imagery: Polaris Images; via





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