Sanctuary Workshop Addresses Immigration Crisis at Pre-Conference Training Event

As part of her role at the General Board of Church and Society, Kirstin Kumpf (center left) organizes and participates in rallies across the country in advocacy for justice. Most recently she helped organize the Interagency task force National Gathering on Immigration in March 2017, this work helped lead to the Connectional Table pledging an additional $100,000 for addressing immigrant justice.

“This is a time of crisis in our country. Especially now, we must figure out how to best stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters and organize for change.”

– Kristin Kumpf, Director of Organizing for the General Board of Church and Society

By the Rev. Richenda Fairhurst

Kristin Kumpf will be leading the Sanctuary training workshop on Wednesday, June 14th, an important pre-conference offering through the Peace with Justice programs and Board of Church and Society of the Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences.  Click here to get more workshop information here.

Kumpf was an original organizer of the New Sanctuary Movement a decade ago. Over the last decade, explains Kumpf, even with how bad the situation was, ICE and enforcement officers used to exercise what was called ‘prosecutorial discretion’ when it came to detention and deportation.

What is different this time around is that immigrants are now being detained and deported without time for any kind of due process. “People in our churches and communities are being deported for no apparent reason,” Kumpf says. “The rules have changed. People who were formerly safe are now very vulnerable.”

Kristin Kumpf

As a result of this shift, the Sanctuary movement in the church has to do more than step up to advocate for time for due process. The stakes are now enormous for immigrant communities, whose loved ones, no matter how long they have been there, can be detained, separated from their families, parents, and children, and deported to places where they may face violence or persecution, or a culture and language they do not know.

The ‘new’ New Sanctuary approach must now include support at the grass roots level. Legal advocacy is also important, but if a parent is afraid to go to the grocery store, or cannot risk deportation by going to their job, that throws a family into domestic crisis, as well. These families may need food support as well as legal support and the support of those willing to take their children in an emergency situation.

At a time of fear and community isolation, connection becomes a vital tool for families in need of advocacy and sanctuary from poverty, violence, and deportation.

“A critical piece of the sanctuary movement is accompaniment,” explains Kumpf. Churches can do this legally. This Wednesday workshop will help explain the ins and outs of how to provide safe and legal support to immigrants. “Sanctuary,” says Kumpf, “is more than people in a church. Your church can be committed to providing safety and services to people regardless of their immigration status.”

For Kumpf the imperative of this work goes to the heart of our faith as called Christian persons. “I have stood there and seen it,” she says. “I know and love people who have been separated from their families. People are deeply impacted by these laws, it’s heartbreaking.” As Christians, we are called to do better. “Jesus came to teach us how to live and care for each other,” she says. “Once you know and love someone, how can you not care about them?”

The Wednesday workshop, and the shorter Saturday training, will be part of Kumpf’s final effort as Director of Organizing within The United Methodist Church.  She has accepted a position with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to serve as their Director of Human Migration and Mobility beginning July 1st. Says Kumpf, “It has been an extraordinary 6 years of working…on the ground in over 100 trainings with churches and communities.”

Co-leaders for the workshop include Rev. Lyda Pierce, Rev. Jorge Rodriquez Vasquez, supported by Claudia Roberts and Ann Mayer. More information about these workshop leaders can be found here.

Do not miss the opportunity to be part of this vital training and learn more. Come yourself, but encourage a friend, coworker or Bible study companion to come with you. Coalitions are strong and they begin with a group of people at the local level who can work together to make a difference.  Essential aspects of the workshop will include hearing stories of those affected, gaining skills in accompaniment and response, and gaining the resources you need to those in the area of your local church.

Please mark your calendar to attend the Sanctuary workshop which runs from 12:30pm to 5pm Wednesday, June 14th, at the Camas United Methodist Church (just East of the Red Lion). Please give the organizers a heads up that you will be attending using the Facebook event registration (LINK) or by emailing pastorrichenda@gmail.com

Please also consider attending Bystander Training; these two workshops we designed to complement one another. Bystander Training is geared toward building relationships and practicing skills of de-escalation and peace in potentially difficult public and private settings. Click here to read about Bystander Training here.

Richenda Fairhurst serves as pastor of Camas United Methodist Church and is the out-going Peace with Justice Coordinator for the PNW Conference Board of Church and Society.

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