Remarks delivered by Executive Director Jennifer Copeland at a March 17 press conference in Chapel Hill on the Sanctuary Movement.
At the North Carolina Council of Churches, we don’t pretend to be objective; we don’t pretend to represent a variety of opinions. We refract the issues of the day through the lens of faith, the faith as heard through the prophetic voice of the Old Testament and the gospel proclamation of the New Testament. As one baptized and confirmed into the Christian faith, my allegiance is first and foremost to that place. And from that place, the notion of immigration is clearly framed as a call to hospitality.
When the forces of the world conspire to harm the ones to whom we are called to show hospitality, then we are expected to protect them. Church of Reconciliation and Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship are only doing what is expected of them. It seems extraordinary because our culture has created a narrative of scarcity and danger in a world that is actually filled with abundance and grace. The fake news that only people who immigrated here from western Europe can be trusted conveniently leaves out the truth that those early European immigrants perpetrated genocide against those who welcomed them, and then captured people from another continent and enslaved them to compound their wealth. And the descendants of those immigrants want to suggest that people who didn’t come here and annihilate one population and enslave another population are somehow dangerous. The North Carolina Council of Churches is working intentionally to foster hospitality for immigrants and, when necessary, protection for those who have been wrongly called dangerous by those who actually are dangerous because of their disregard for human rights, constitutional rights, and due process.
To mitigate the real danger for some among us, with our partners we are launching the NC Sanctuary Coalition. Our immediate goals are to:
- Coordinate resources, information, best practices and support for congregations already offering sanctuary as well as those ready to offer sanctuary;
- Recruit significantly more churches—how about a hundred?—to offer sanctuary or support others offering sanctuary;
- Identify congregations that want to accompany or support immigrants facing deportation; and
- Support immigrant-led groups who are the ones that know the most about what is really going on in their world.
Today we stand with Rosa del Carmen Ortez-Cruz, the people of Church of Reconciliation Presbyterian Church, and the people of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship. Rose, we are sorry that you cannot be safe without being sheltered here in this place, but we are honored that you trust us to provide shelter. May God keep you safe and keep safe those you love.
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