Our Path to Becoming a Sanctuary Church
During the first half of 2017, members of Forest Hill engaged Session and Trustees around welcoming refugees and supporting non-citizen immigrants who live in nearby communities. A dinner was held with US Together, an organization helping refugees. A meeting was also held with representatives from HOLA Ohio, an organization based in Painesville that helps immigrants facing deportation. Both Session and the Trustees supported these conversations.
While the church leaders engaged in further planning and discussion about becoming a sanctuary church, on August 5, Rev. Lentz received a phone call from HOLA relaying an immediate need to provide sanctuary for an individual facing deportation. You can read her story here.
At a special Session meeting called on August 6, leadership reviewed what providing “Sanctuary” meant from biblical, historical, and Presbyterian perspective. Sanctuary is an ancient practice of providing refuge in sacred spaces from secular legal action.
Logistics for providing suitable living space and amenities and legal issues were reviewed at this meeting. Trustees reported that they had already investigated the location and cost of installing a shower. With the church’s existing full kitchen in the wing where the living quarters might be located, the woman could cook for herself if groceries were brought to her.
Following an in-depth discussion, it was moved that Forest Hill Church provide Sanctuary for whatever length of time was needed to work out the woman’s legal status. After prayer, a vote was taken and the motion was unanimously approved.