Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Declares Itself a ‘Sanctuary Church’ for Migrants

Delegates at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly voted to make the denomination a “sanctuary church” for migrants on Wednesday, August 7, 2019. | YouTube/Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America passed a measure declaring their entire denomination a “sanctuary church” for migrants, including those who entered the United States illegally.  

At the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the 3.4 million-member mainline Protestant denomination approved a resolution, or “memorial,” making themselves a “sanctuary church.”

The vote came by a clear majority of the voting delegates raising green cards and reportedly made the ELCA the first denomination in North America to identify as a sanctuary body.   

In a press release announcing the result of the memorial, the ELCA noted that earlier in the day, Presiding Bishop the Reverend Elizabeth Eaton and about 700 Assembly members held a march and prayer vigil outside the nearby Milwaukee Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

“The march addressed concerns about the human rights of migrant children and families entering the U.S. along the southern border,” stated the ELCA.

“Through the ELCA’s initiative, Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO), this church is committed to work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the U.S.”

The memorial was not without its critics. David Tindell of the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin spoke against the measure, arguing that they should be mindful of “the rule of law” and that there are better venues for change in immigration reform.

“The rule of law is clear when it comes to immigration. It may not be the law that we necessarily like and it may not be enforced the way we would necessarily like, but it is still the law. We must be mindful of that,” said Tindell.

“When we want something to be changed in this country in terms of a law, we have the means to do that through our elected representatives.”

Thomas Askegaard of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod explained that he believed the memorial failed to go far enough in its goal to make the denomination a sanctuary church.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski