September sermon series: Immigration and Sanctuary Church

Discernment of Becoming a Sanctuary Church

In 2016, the St. John’s session approved a motion to begin discerning providing sanctuary space at St. John’s. Over the past couple years, partners at St. John’s shared growing concern for refugees and immigrants in our area. Through Interfaith Welcome Bay Area Refugee Support, we participated in creating welcome kits for refugees as well as collecting donations for the Teddy Bear Lift project that provides teddy bears to children displaced from their homes. Also, through Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, some partners also began to attend meetings on how to support undocumented immigrants as well as be trained on how to be an observer during Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. The growing involvement from St. John’s partners led to intentionally discerning how St. John’s as a church can support refugees and undocumented immigrants in our area.

St. John’s created a Sanctuary Huddle that will gather at least once a month to coordinate efforts and share resources.

In June, we began to explore immigrant and refugee issues. Worship centered around the theme, “Loving Our Neighbor.”

  • June 4, 2017 – Pentecost Sunday. Prayer stations that focused on stories of immigrants and refugees.
  • June 11, 2017 – Guest Speaker: Jose Sotelo, shared his personal story of being an undocumented immigrant.
  • June 18, 2017 – pastor Theresa preached on the greatest commandment and our call to love our neighbor.

In September, worship will focus on the theme of Immigration and Sanctuary

  • September 10, 2017 – Prayer stations that focus on sharing stories of migration, immigration laws, and sanctuary information.
  • September 17, 2017 – Guest Speaker: elder John Templeton will share a personal story of criminalization. Criminalization and immigration are often connected to one another.
  • September 24, 2017 – Members of the Sanctuary Huddle will share stories of migration. Possibly take a congregational photo in front of the “We Choose Welcome” sign.

Information will be provided throughout the month regarding what it means to be a sanctuary congregation. Along the way, we will continue to discern our readiness to decide whether to be a sanctuary church or not.

If you have any questions regarding the process, contact pastor Theresa (


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