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Statement on Intent to Study the Sanctuary Church Movement and Engage in Immigrant Justice

To join this effort, please contact the Rev. J. Brent Bates directly at or 973-623-1733.

Statement at the 2017 Annual Convention of the Diocese of Newark
on Intent to Study the Sanctuary Church Movement
and Engage in Immigrant Justice

Bishop, we rise on a point of privilege.

I am Brent Bates, Rector of Grace Church in Newark and I’m gathering here with at least 24 lay and clergy deputies to this convention.

Dear Bishop Beckwith, Secretary King, Chancellor Sammons, and my dear fellow deputies to this 2017 Annual Convention of the Diocese of Newark:

In light of recent events, including recent announcements by our President regarding the curtailment of executive protective orders for non-criminal undocumented immigrants, such as under DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the end to so-called Sanctuary Cities, such as Newark, and most recently the executive order that has stranded immigrants in airports around the world, and specifically the two people as of this morning allegedly being unlawfully detained at Kennedy International Airport in in New York, we appreciate your attention for a few minutes, and the privilege granted by Bishop Beckwith and John King to speak to you for a few moments regarding our intent (and our encouragement of everyone who shares these concerns) to study the Sanctuary Church Movement and engage in immigrant justice, as a diocese, as well as in our parishes and as individual Christians.

On Friday John Mennell at St. Luke’s in Montclair, Joseph Harmon at Epiphany-Christ Church in Orange, Dave Sullivan at Church of the Messiah in Chester, and I joined at least 3 dozen interfaith and ecumenical clergy and laypeople from around the State of New Jersey, including at least 3 more Episcopalians from the Diocese of New Jersey, at the Faith in New Jersey meeting regarding the possibility of establishing Sanctuary Congregations in New Jersey. Faith in New Jersey is an affiliate of the national PICO community organizing network, which is engaging the Sanctuary Church Movement. We heard compelling presentations by clergy, laypeople, lawyers, and undocumented immigrants now threatened by deportation due to the current political climate we all find ourselves within.

Within our diocese, and within each of our own parishes, we have a membership of many immigrants from throughout the world. While many may be documented, we certainly do have some number of undocumented members, who are now at risk of deportation, not because they are criminals, but because of the very complicated issue of immigration, and the reality that undocumented peoples are being treated inhumanly like a political card to be played.

Now, we know that we, the 400 deputies of this convention, are not likely unified on political views in regard to anything, including policies of immigration. My purpose is not to convince anyone of a particular political position. But this is not about a particular candidate, politician, party, or political platform. It doesn't matter who we voted for or who we support or don't support.

However, we believe that the Hebrew Scriptures tell us that we are to respect and treat with respect the "alien," because we too were once "aliens" in a foreign land. And that such teachings were echoed and endorsed by Jesus. The second greatest command of our Lord Jesus Christ, after loving God with all our being, and our commitment in our baptismal covenant, to love our neighbor as ourselves, his clear teaching that even the scorned Samaritans of his time were to be considered neighbors and not strangers, his example even to cross the Samaritan border and stay among them, and his teaching that when the “Son of Man comes in his glory” and “all nations will be gathered before him,” the only thing that will then separate humankind is whether or not we fed, clothed, cared, visited, and welcomed him when he was “a stranger,” when we encountered him in the “least of these” in the family of God.

Therefore, we are calling, not in an official form of a resolution for debate, but in an un-official, but we hope an even more effectual way, for the study in this diocese of the Sanctuary Congregation movement, what TEC is and will be doing, what other dioceses have and will be doing, and what we might do as a diocese, parishes, and individual Episcopalians and Anglicans, in regard to our current national and international situation regarding immigrants and refugees. We hope to include our chancellor, the bishop, and other interested clergy and laypersons in this study, with possible recommendations for future actions as a diocese, parishes, or individuals. And we are offering our hearts, minds, and bodies to this work. Stating only our names and congregational or other affiliation, we are:*

Brent Bates, Grace Church in Newark

Pam Bakal, Grace Church in Nutley

Gail Barkley, Trinity & St. Philip's Cathedral in Newark

Cynthia Black, Church of the Redeemer in Morristown

Ken Boccino, St. George's in Maplewood

Anne Bolles-Beavin, Holy Innocents in West Orange

Mark Collins, All Saints in Glen Rock

Gary Commins, Church of the Incarnation in Jersey City

Jim Cramer, Grace Church in Newark

Tracy Cummings, Grace Church in Newark

Mary Davis, St. Paul's in Chatham

Peter DeFranco, St. Peter’s in Clifton

David DeSmith, St. David's in Kinnelon

Deborah Drake, St. Agnes in Little Falls

Sylvester Ekunwe, St. George’s in Maplewood

Martha Gardner, St. George’s in Maplewood

Keith Gentry, St. Michael's in Wayne

Melissa Hall, St. James Church in Upper Montclair

Joseph Harmon, Epiphany - Christ Church in Orange

Rose Hassan, Church of St. Luke and St. Mary, Hope and Belvidere, NJ

Audrey Hasselbrook, St. James in Upper Montclair

Patrice Henderson, St. Andrews & Holy Communion in South Orange

Gregory Jacobs, Diocese of Newark

John A. King, St. Andrew's in Harrington Park

Chris McCloud, Archdeacon for Administration & Formation

John Mennell, St. Lukes in Montclair

Tim Mulder, Christ Church in Short Hills

Tom Murphy, St. Paul’s in Jersey City

Margaret Otterburn, Church of the Messiah in Chester

Gregory Perez, Trinity Parish in Bergen Point, Bayonne

Rod Perez-Vega, St. John’s in Dover

Diane Riley, Good Shepherd in Lincoln Park & Montville

Laura Russell, All Saints in Hoboken

Susan Sica, St. Gregory's in Parsippany

Willie Smith, Trinity Episcopal Church in Cliffside Park

Sonia Waters, Princeton Seminary

Chris Whitaker, Christ Church in Short Hills

Diana Wilcox, Christ Church in Bloomfield/Glen Ridge

Vanessa Wigfall, Trinity & St. Philips Cathedral in Newark

Sandye Wilson, St. Andrews & Holy Communion in South Orange

Hilary Won, All Saints Episcopal Korean in Bergenfield

Laurie Wurm, Grace Church Van Vorst in Jersey City

Young Yoon, All Saints in Leonia

*This list will be updated as additional people sign on.

Resource Date: 
Jan 28, 2017