By Brandan Robertson, Interim Communications Associate
On April 1st
, the Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church hosted a sanctuary church training at Smoky Hill United Methodist Church in Centennial, Colorado. Churches and leaders from across the Mountain Sky Area attended the event both in person and via video conferencing.
Bishop Karen Oliveto welcomed attendees of the training via video, saying, “I am so thankful that the Mountain Sky Area is hosting Sanctuary training…it is so critical that we engage this ministry, that we learn how to welcome the stranger…Thank you the ways that you are willing to stand in solidarity with those at the margins of our communities, because God is always found at the margins.”
Over fifty leaders from churches across the Mountain Sky Area gathered for the training and engaged in deep, fruitful discussions about the challenges that immigrants face and how their communities might support and advocate on behalf of those threatened with deportation.
Youngsook Kang, director of Mission and Ministry for the Mountain Sky area welcomed attendees to the training, saying, “We at the Mountain Sky Area are striving to see the face of Christ in the face of refugees and immigrants. We are actively working on a response to recent executive orders and are pleased to offer this Sanctuary movement training.
Throughout the two-day event, attendees heard from panels of immigrants and those who have been deeply involved in working with immigrant populations, as they sought to broadly outline what “Sanctuary” means, how we “Declare Sanctuary”. Following these panels, Kristin Kumpf, the Director of Organizing for the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church led attendees through the history of the sanctuary movement and helped churches envision ways that they could be involved in this important work based on their context.
“So often we separate our faith and work for justice. But we have to link them closely together to fulfill our calling as followers of Christ
,” Kumpf said. “Sanctuary is about building relationships in your community, and out of our relationships, working together to help educate and empower people to be advocates for the rights of undocumented immigrants
Following the training, many churches from across the Mountain Sky Area were eager to begin discussions among their congregations about how they might participate in the sanctuary movement. Youngsook Kang told attendees, “The Sanctuary movement is playing a critical role in response to the current reality in our country. Vulnerable populations are mistreated and discriminated against based on their religion and nationality
. We believe that what we are doing here is exploring ways to welcome the stranger through our hospitality.”
The Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church is committed to supporting the sanctuary movement. For resources about how your church can get involved, click here. (link coming soon)
Click below to see videos from the training: