Let me be clear, I am proud to be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and to have served as a pastor of the ELCA for the last 26 years.
The decision, voted on by the voting members of our 2019 church-wide assembly, consisting of both lay and clergy members who represented all 65 synods of the ELCA, is simply a document that says what we have been doing for many years, i.e., welcoming the stranger.
Quoting from elca.org “In its simplest form, becoming a sanctuary denomination means that the ELCA is publicly declaring that walking alongside immigrants and refugees is a matter of faith.” This was explained very clearly by Bishop Deborah Hurterer of the Grand Canyon Synod in the article in the Green Valley News last Sunday. I think that there is misunderstanding from some who may have read the article with lenses that depicted a different meaning of what it means to be a “sanctuary church/denomination,” i.e., “harboring illegal law breakers.”
We support legal immigration. This is also not a political statement, but about carrying out ministry as God asked us to do throughout the Old and New Testament. It is our faith active in works. Churches and the ELCA have been doing this for many years. Yes, it is the choice of individual congregations to determine what ministries are most important to their communities.
Barb Rapp, Green Valley