For all of our 60 years, Orchard Ridge UCC has sought to be a ‘neighborly’ church. Among all of our commitments, we have always sought to be a resource and partner with those in our local community. More and more of us are aware that many of our Madison neighbors are feeling unsafe or at risk because of their ethnicity and/or citizenship status.
As people of faith, and as Americans, we at ORUCC seek to support a national culture
that respects the shared humanity of everyone who calls our country home. But right now, rapidly escalating deportations of our neighbors who have lived in this country for years is upending communities and destroying families. This is happening all across the country, including in the Madison area.
It doesn’t have to be this way. With a modern legalization process that solves problems and preserves families instead of ripping them apart with deportations, we can live out our best values and uphold the teachings of Jesus.
Many of us in the congregation have asked how we as a church can express and give witness to our values. In short, what does it mean to “Love Our Neighbors” in this context. In response, our Ministry of Christian Witness and Service (CWS) has formed a Sanctuary Mission Team. The purpose of this ad hoc group is to design an educational and discussion process for the congregation through the spring and into the early summer. Topics will include spiritual and moral questions, legal issues, and logistic and practical questions. After hosting several opportunities for such learning and conversation, the mission team will assess what actions we may take as a congregation. This could take many forms, including the decision to becoming a ‘sanctuary church’ in which we would offer our building as a sanctuary for undocumented individuals or families in need of a safe space. This action would require a congregational vote, and such a vote would come only at the recommendation of the Leadership Team.
We will be coordinating our educational efforts with Madison Mennonite Church (which shares our building), even though our congregations act independently. We are beginning to connect with other congregations and religious leaders and well as immigration advocates to find the best information possible. We will offer opportunities on Sunday mornings as well as during the week. Please watch your email for more specific opportunities.
If you have questions, feel free to talk with anyone on the Sanctuary mission team: Ruthanne Landness (moderator), LuAnn Greiner(co-chair of CWS), Susan Cary, Marv Beatty, Paul Hedges, Ron Adams (Madison Mennonite Pastor) and Winton Boyd.