New YCWI Board Members

Every year we welcome a new class of fabulous women to join in leadership as Board Members. Board Members generally serve a three-year term, and some women stay for a second three-year term after their initial service. We give thanks for the women who have served our organization faithfully and will roll off the board this year: Diana Carroll, Jamie Haskins, Julie Jensen, Amy Loving Austin, Erica Schemper, and Phyl Stutzman. Their gifts and skills have been a blessing to each one of us on the board and to the organization as a whole.

We are also thankful for each member of the board who will be returning this year: Kelly Boubel Shriver, Caroline Berardi, Sarah Hooker, Emily Brown, Austin Shelley, Molly James, Erin Klassen, Julie Hoplamazian, Meg Jenista, Sarah Moore, Lesley Ratcliff, Sarah Ross, Sarah Weisiger, Whitney Wilkinson, and Elizabeth Grasham.

You can find out more about all of our off-going and current board members on our board page.

Without further ado, we are excited to introduce our newest board members!


Dwalunda Alexander was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where she graduated from Texas Southern University with her BA in Psychology in 2005. She moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 2005 to attend Brite Divinity School on the campus of Texas Christian University where she received her MDiv with a concentration in Black Church Studies in December 2008. She is currently in her final stages of completing her DMin in Preaching from Lincoln Christian Seminary. Dwalunda is an ordained elder through the Rhema Fellowship of Churches and currently serves as a part of the worship ministry at Destiny Church in Fort Worth. She is also the founder of Antioch Kingdom Ministries and an educator with Fort Worth ISD. The best part of her days is spent loving, laughing, and enjoying life with her husband Jon and their four wonderful children.


Megan Clapp serves as Associate Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Northwestern Minnesota. She is a graduate of Luther Seminary, and, along with her MDiv, received a degree in Children, Youth, and Family ministry. She was ordained in 2011. Megan is passionate about helping God’s people grow in faith that is connected to every part of life and equipping families to grow together in discipleship. Megan is married to Eric (who serves as Pastor in a nearby congregation) and they are parents to Lillian. She loves good books, delicious coffee, great conversations, and spending time with friends and family on any available patio, deck or lake.


Jo Kershaw is the parish priest of St Anne’s Wrenthorpe, in one of the south-eastern bits of the north of England. She grew up in Scotland, studied German at St Andrews and Oxford, where she completed a doctoral thesis on Mechthild of Magdeburg. She still loves all things mediaeval and thinks we could learn a thing or two from the writings of the period and its deep attention to the body and incarnation – even if, sometimes, it’s what not to do. She trained for the Anglican priesthood at Westcott House, Cambridge, where she married her husband Jonathan, also a priest. Her ministry has been spent in the North of England – her current context is famous for rhubarb and brass bands (luckily she likes both these things!). Jo loves knitting, photography, and science fiction and fantasy – though she’ll read most things. She also loves to travel, and probably drinks too much coffee.


Jennifer Quanbeck is an ordained ELCA pastor who has served congregations in Washington and Montana. A graduate from Luther Seminary (MDiv 2008) and The College of William and Mary (BS 2003), Jen enjoys working with youth, health/fitness, and to-do-lists. An analytic at heart, but with a twist of artistic flair, Jen is motivated by opportunities for innovation and change. A lover of hiking, photography, and sunshine, Jen and her clergy spouse, Ben, share life with two young children and currently serve the same congregation in Billings, Montana.


Elizabeth Riley is the Associate Rector of Trinity Church (Episcopal) in Menlo Park. Born and raised in Alaska, she migrated south for sunny California to attend Saint Mary’s College of California where she studied Theology and English. She then went on to receive her MDiv from Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Elizabeth especially enjoys justice ministry and interfaith work. She and her husband Scott spend most of their time chasing after their toddler, Eleanor, and look forward to welcoming their second child in winter of 2017. In her free time Elizabeth loves quilting, is an avid reader, and enjoys exploring the Bay Area with her family.


Bre Roberts is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and serves as co-pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, alongside her husband Ryan. Together they also co-parent two charmingly ordinary pastors’ kids. Bre received a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona and a MDiv from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. Prior to living in the Land of Enchantment, she served as an associate pastor in Baltimore, Maryland. Bre speaks fluent nerd, has four tattoos, attends a gaming convention or Renaissance festival in costume whenever possible, is a novice quilter, and is also the caretaker for the family’s cats, Cow and Drizzt.

Here we go into the next decade. May God’s outpouring of love through this organization be transformed into acts of justice and mercy in the communities to which we are called throughout the world!

Beach Reads for When the Collar Comes Off

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere! For many of us, that means we can look forward to some vacation time in the next few months (in between Vacation Bible School, fall planning, and of course, attending YCWI’s annual conference.) It also means hopefully having a bit more time to read.

We asked the members of YCWI’s board what they enjoy reading in those moments when the collar comes off. Here are some of their recommendations.

Kelly Boubel Shriver: I recently finished reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel (best sci-fi/fantasy novel). Jemisin is the first black author, and first woman of color, to win the Hugo for Best Novel, which is both unbelievable (it’s 2017!) and an enormous victory. The Fifth Season is the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy and follows three characters (all women, another rarity for sci-fi) who can control the seismic powers of the earth as they navigate the beginnings of an apocalyptic natural disaster. It’s totally engrossing, beautifully written, and provides prescient commentary on race relations in times of crisis. Pick it up! I promise, even if you’re not normally a sci-fi/fantasy reader, it’s well worth your time.

Also, You’re Doing a Great Job: 100 Ways You’re Winning at Parenting by Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn would be a great book for the parent of busy, constantly-needing-supervision kiddos at the beach. It’s a totally encouraging, normalizing look at parenting and how we’re all doing a pretty good job at a really hard thing. Each of the 100 ways is broken down into a few paragraphs, so it’s very easy to read in 30-second segments between finding the sand shovel, refereeing the fight over the lemonade juice box, and making sure the toddler doesn’t step on a jellyfish.

Sarah Ross: I’ve been on a bit of a short story kick lately, reading Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and re-reading an old favorite, Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie. Alexie is one of the few authors who can make me laugh out loud and also make me cry, occasionally in the same story. Lahiri’s writing was new to me, but her tales of ordinary people also packed an emotional punch. Both Alexie (a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Native American) and Lahiri (a London-born Indian-American immigrant) have unique and complex views on the American experience, and they find beauty and power in the lives of everyday people. Read more

New Name, New Logo, New Board: A Season of Gratitude and Vision for Young Clergy Women International

In honor of the 10th Anniversary of The Young Clergy Women Project, the Board is thrilled to announce a new logo and a new organizational name: Young Clergy Women International. We are grateful for the vision and hard work of those who birthed this organization and nurtured it through its infancy (Weren’t those first steps amazing?) and first decade, and we are proud to claim the new name as our own as we continue the work of building up the youngest ordained women who serve Christ’s church around the globe.

As Young Clergy Women, we embody a certain tension. When we consider the long span of Christian history, we acknowledge that many Christian denominations have only recently begun to ordain women (and that many have yet to do so). Yet, a rich representation of women in the biblical story reminds us that Young Clergy Women are not a new phenomenon! Women have testified to the faithfulness of God with their actions: The Widow of Zarephath fed her household plus Elijah using a jar of oil that did not run out; a grateful woman broke a jar of nard over Jesus’ feet, thereby anointing him; Mary urged Jesus to turn vessels of water into wine at a wedding in Cana, and women throughout the Bible led the way in offering radical hospitality to friends and strangers alike. Scripture also reveals that women were the first messengers of the gospel. The Samaritan woman at the well left her own water jar when she ran back into town to tell everyone about Jesus. And Mary Magdalene, perhaps still holding the jar of spices that she, Mary, and Salome had taken to the tomb, was the first to shout, “I have seen the Lord!”

As we enter into our second decade over 1600 members strong, it is our hope and prayer that, like these women of scripture and the pitchers they carried, the women of YCWI will be supported and connected as we engage the holy task of preaching with our words and with our lives.

Into this new organization we welcome a new class of fabulous women to join in leadership as Board Members. Board Members generally serve a three-year term, and some women stay for a second three-year term after their initial service. We give thanks for the women who have served our organization faithfully and will roll off the board this year: Diana Carroll, Jamie Haskins, Julie Jensen, Amy Loving Austin, Erica Schemper, and Phyl Stutzman. Their gifts and skills have been a blessing to each one of us on the board and to the organization as a whole.

We are also thankful for each member of the board who will be returning this year: Kelly Boubel Shriver, Caroline Berardi, Sarah Hooker, Emily Brown, Austin Shelley, Molly James, Erin Klassen, Julie Hoplamazian, Meg Jenista, Sarah Moore, Lesley Ratcliff, Sarah Ross, Sarah Weisiger, Whitney Wilkinson, and Elizabeth Grasham.

You can find out more about all of our off-going and current board members on our board page.

Without further ado, we are excited to introduce our newest board members!

Dwalunda Alexander was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where she graduated from Texas Southern University with her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology in 2005. She moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 2005 to attend Brite Divinity School on the campus of Texas Christian University where she received her Masters of Divinity with a concentration in Black Church Studies in December 2008. She is currently in her final stages of completing her Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Lincoln Christian Seminary. Dwalunda is an ordained elder through the Rhema Fellowship of Churches and currently serves as a part of the worship ministry at Destiny Church in Fort Worth. She is also the founder of Antioch Kingdom Ministries and an educator with Fort Worth ISD. The best part of her days is spent loving, laughing, and enjoying life with her husband Jon and their four wonderful children.

Megan Clapp serves as Associate Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Northwestern Minnesota. She is a graduate of Luther Seminary, and, along with her Masters of Divinity, received a degree in Children, Youth, and Family ministry. She was ordained in 2011. Megan is passionate about helping God’s people grow in faith that is connected to every part of life and equipping families to grow together in discipleship. Megan is married to Eric (who serves as Pastor in a nearby congregation) and they are parents to Lillian. She loves good books, delicious coffee, great conversations, and spending time with friends and family on any available patio, deck or lake.

Jo Kershaw is the parish priest of St Anne’s Wrenthorpe, in one of the south-eastern bits of the north of England. She grew up in Scotland, studied German at St Andrews and Oxford, where she completed a doctoral thesis on Mechthild of Magdeburg. She still loves all things mediaeval and thinks we could learn a thing or two from the writings of the period and its deep attention to the body and incarnation – even if, sometimes, it’s what not to do.  She trained for the Anglican priesthood at Westcott House, Cambridge, where she married her husband Jonathan, also a priest.  Her ministry has been spent in the North of England – her current context is famous for rhubarb and brass bands (luckily she likes both these things!). Jo loves knitting, photography, and science fiction and fantasy – though she’ll read most things.  She also loves to travel, and probably drinks too much coffee.

Jennifer Quanbeck is an ordained ELCA pastor who has served congregations in Washington and Montana. A graduate from Luther Seminary (M.Div 2008) and The College of William and Mary (B.S. 2003), Jen enjoys working with youth, health/fitness, and to-do-lists. An analytic at heart, but with a twist of artistic flair, Jen is motivated by opportunities for innovation and change. A lover of hiking, photography, and sunshine, Jen and her clergy spouse, Ben, share life with two young children and currently serve the same congregation in Billings, MT.

Elizabeth Riley is the Associate Rector of Trinity Church (Episcopal) in Menlo Park. Born and raised in Alaska, she migrated south for sunny California to attend Saint Mary’s College of California where she studied Theology and English. She then went on to receive her Masters of Divinity from Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Elizabeth especially enjoys justice ministry and interfaith work. She and her husband Scott spend most of their time chasing after their toddler, Eleanor, and look forward to welcoming their second child in winter of 2017. In her free time Elizabeth loves quilting, is an avid reader, and enjoys exploring the Bay Area with her family.

Bre Roberts is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and serves as co-pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, alongside her husband Ryan. Together they also co-parent two charmingly ordinary pastors’ kids. Bre received a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona and a Master of Divinity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. Prior to living in the Land of Enchantment, she served as an associate pastor in Baltimore, Maryland. Bre speaks fluent nerd, has four tattoos, attends a gaming convention or Renaissance festival in costume whenever possible, is a novice quilter, and is also the caretaker for the family’s cats, Cow and Drizzt.

Here we go into the next decade. May God’s outpouring of love through this organization be transformed into acts of justice and mercy in the communities to which we are called throughout the world!

open suitcase on a beach with beach gear inside

Ask a YCW: Vacation Edition

open suitcase on a beach with beach gear inside

 

Dear Askie,

I’m a solo pastor, and as summer approaches, people have been asking me what I’m doing for vacation this year. I know everyone says vacation is important for pastors, and I have vacation time included in my terms of call, but it seems like any week I’d want to be away, I would miss something important at the church. Plus, preparing for vacation is just so much work! With arranging pulpit supply, and getting bulletins ready in advance, and finding someone to cover pastoral care, it just sometimes seems easier to stay here. If it’s so much work to go on vacation, is it really worth it?

Signed,
Too Tired to Take Time

Read more

rubber ducky toys

When Doing More Isn’t Enough

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
~Psalm 127:1-2

rubber ducky toysThe highlighted calendar said it all:

May 1: Book Day! Bring your favorite book.
May 2: Hat Day! Wear a fun hat to school.
May 3: Cowpoke Day! Wear your boots and bandanas!
May 4: Costume Day! Wear a Halloween costume or dress-up outfit to school.
May 5: Fun in the Sun Day! Bring a towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a bathing suit for outdoor fun.

I serve as an associate pastor, mostly tending to the faith education of children and their families. The aforementioned instructions cover only the first week of a month-long calendar that was recently sent home with a kindergartener in my congregation. The child’s mother is a professional singer, a soloist in the church choir. She’s usually a picture of elegance—like a tree planted beside a stream of water—exuding calm and control, beauty, strength, grace. But in her Facebook post, complete with a photo of the class calendar in all its highlighted glory, this confident, professional musician was about to lose it. Her exasperation was palpable as she wondered aloud to an audience of Facebook friends, “Wait. Now I’m supposed to send in random yet very specific items for an entire month of school or else my kid is left out?”

As a mother of three children ages 13, 11, and 4, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the kindergarten-last-month-of-school calendar is just the beginning. And while the complete ridiculousness of my kids’ schools expecting anything more than that my children will be fed and dressed and relatively clean at this time in the school year is hilariously summed up by Jen Hatmaker, the truth remains: most of us have bought into the idea that doing more (and more and more and more) will someday—finally—be enough.

Those of us who work in churches are far from immune to this line of thinking. Read more

Hospital bed

Pregnant, No Baby

Hospital bed

Hospital bed

Now I wish that I’d had the “abortion.”

He dropped my hand to run across the room. A pan, anything to catch it, but the blood was coming and the staff was too busy and there was nothing he had, ultimately, but his hands. I know those hands so well. He calls them “bear paws” for the way he claws rather indelicately but with force just so when there’s a knot in my neck or to steady our toddling daughter.

The clods of blood embarrassed me and I apologized out loud, to whom, I’m not sure, since the hospital staff weren’t there. In between episodes, I bent over with a towel or whatever I could find to sop everything up, but in time the bleeding became too much and bending over was unwise and I sat on the bed, causing more mess and I hate mess. Then came the pain with an intensity I hadn’t felt since my beautiful baby girl’s birth. I pushed the button for the preoccupied staff because: PAIN. But no one could come right then and my husband took my hand with his sweet bear paws.

Then the expunging surges my uterus proffered to get this all done began and he dropped my hand to try to go see what he could do between my legs, positioned like a midwife at a birth, checking, catching. I saw him look into his cupped hands at this Nerf football-sized clotted thing that he then carefully set aside, as the staff had asked us to do “for analysis” before they left for the other things.

A few weeks before, we were on the primary care side of the hospital complex, excited to have the ultrasound. There was a pregnancy sack, all of the things that say “pregnant,” a positive pregnancy test, but no heartbeat. The midwife was more shaken about it than I was and I found myself reaching out to comfort her when her voice got shaky. My pain was for later, for my secret space in a room by myself in some time with my God.

Faced with two options, one was cheaper. I am grateful to have health insurance through the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ, the denomination I serve as a pastor. Our plan had covered our daughter’s simple hospital birth at 100% once our deductible was met. But, as I have known for years, as our insurance representatives reiterate consistently when asked why they do not cover dilation and curettage surgeries: “The United Church of Christ does not cover abortions or other elective procedures.” So our second option would be paid entirely out of our own pockets. My health plan did not prioritize my health. Maybe I did not, either.

In earlier, harder days, in between insurance coverage, I frequented Planned Parenthood for my routine women’s health needs. But those were hard days and I did not want to go back to them. Moreover, I was scared of the idea of an abortion. I have close family members who vote solely on whether or not a candidate supports women’s access to abortions, and I knew that if I went forward with one – even though there was no life in my womb – I would be at extreme odds with their position. I was too afraid to face the kinds of conversations that could ensue if I had that D&C. Read more

Not What You Meant: The Bible and the Gospel in The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale, the new Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, needs a trigger warning. It’s “intended for mature audiences,” but it’s hard to watch if you’ve ever been in a relationship with a total imbalance of power, if you’ve ever been pregnant or nursed an infant, or had a child die, or been sexually assaulted. It took me four tries to get through one scene: I kept pausing and switching windows in my browser, so great was my anxiety about what was coming next.

When I first picked up the novel, I was a freshman in college – a preacher’s kid in an interdisciplinary program in Boston. I’d grown up in Midwestern churches, the words of Psalm 19 and the words of institution and my father’s preferred baptismal covenant and benediction etched on my heart. I could recite them from memory years before I entered ministry myself. But when I read Atwood’s novel, which depicts a dystopian future theocracy where women are not allowed to read, much less own anything, work, or maintain bodily autonomy, I did not recognize the ideological roots of the regime as Christian. Atwood’s world-building is incredible; and though I got references to “Loaves and Fishes” and “Milk and Honey,” I felt certain she’d also made up most of the cited religious language. At the Prayvaganza, as a handful of girls are offered in arranged marriage to returned soldiers, the Commander in charge says, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection… [For] Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

I grew up in churches, but my dad had taken Old Testament with Phyllis Trible in the 1970s. I had no idea what 1 Timothy was about. I was sheltered.

I reread the novel last fall, when #repealthe19th was trending on Twitter. The Nineteenth Amendment, you’ll recall, is the one which grants women the right to vote. The hashtag gained popularity after statistician Nate Silver suggested that if only women voted in the presidential election, Hillary Clinton would win hands down. I’m no stranger now to the realities of misogyny, the ubiquitous evidence of rape culture, even as a privileged white woman, but the threat, however far-fetched, of disenfranchisement seemed to raise the stakes.

In The Handmaid’s Tale, both the show and the novel, a violent act that takes out Congress precipitates the imposition of martial law and ushers in the theocratic, totalitarian regime known as Gilead. Facing cultural upheaval and global infertility, fertile women are assigned to marriages, to serve as handmaids to the wives of powerful men in the manner of the biblical Rachel and her slave Bilhah. These handmaids are infantilized and treated alternately as holy vessels and sluts; they are covered in billowing red dresses and starched white veils; they are stripped of their names, known only in relation to the man they serve, Of-Fred, Of-Stephen, Of-Glen.

After November, it feels all the more timely. Read more

When I Grow Up

What did you want to be when you grow up?

I don’t know about you all, but I was certain that I was going to be an agricultural veterinarian. I was going to specialize in Equine Care, and spend my days travelling to horse farms and stables caring for the these large, stately animals and the people who loved them.

But somewhere along the way, church caught me. It hooked me by the mind and the heart, and I found myself incapable of surrender. Church felt important—it oriented me outside of myself and towards justice, righteousness, and making the world a better place. My previous dreams simply couldn’t compete with the larger, big-picture worldview of God in Christ. Suddenly I was planning my future ministry, dreaming of ordination and robes and preaching and teaching, wondering if getting arrested is the sort of thing that a really committed pastor would do for the cause of justice, thinking about environmental ethics and the poor and multicultural church, and fantasizing about a Godly Play Classroom of my own.

Fast forward a few years, and these days I am not so sure. Sometimes I cannot imagine doing anything other than what I am doing in this very moment, serving a small suburban church near a big city. When we serve our neighbors, when I preach the Gospel, when I catch the neighborhood kids singing church songs at the playground and playing “baptism” with their dolls, I am caught again.

But other days, the days filled with long meetings, marked by congregational conflict and uncertainty, the days when we are fighting over carpet colors or worried that we don’t have enough money to feed the poor and help the helpless, the days when my church sucks the life out of me with endless meetings and neediness, … Those days I find myself returning to the same question: what on earth I was thinking?

I know I am not alone. Read more

What White Christians can Learn from Get Out

the author

The author

I’ve watched white churches attempt to confront racism in ways their members can digest, whether it be with campaigns or curriculums. So I’d like to add a suggestion. Predominantly white churches who want to confront their racism should watch Get Out.

In Jordan Peele’s horror/thriller, a young black photographer named Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) goes to meet the family of his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams from Girls) for the first time. The audience travels with Chris and Rose to the secluded and expansive home of the rest of the Armitages: Rose’s neurosurgeon father, Dean (Bradley Whitford); Rose’s psychiatrist mother, Missy (Catherine Keener); and Rose’s mixed-martial arts enthusiast brother, Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones).

The Armitages appear to be the average “liberal” white family, but there is an eerie mixture of condescension and forced politeness molded into their kindness that makes Chris uncomfortable from the moment he arrives. When Chris meets the Black housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Black groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson), who are subservient in a way reminiscent of slavery, it’s clear something isn’t right.

Chris eventually finds pictures of Rose with numerous Black men and a picture of Rose with a less hypnotized, more modernly dressed version of Georgina. The photos lead to the big reveal of the terrifying truth about Rose and her family. Rose lures Black men (and Georgina) to her family’s home so her mother can hypnotize them, and her father and brother can then transplant the brains of white people into the bodies of their new Black hosts. The process started with Rose’s grandparents, whose brains were transplanted into the bodies of Walter and Georgina. The brain transplants leave their victims in the “sunken place”: a place in their consciousness where they are passive observers of everything they say or do.

Peele’s “Get Out” is a love letter to the Black community, validating our anxiety about the racism of all liberal white people—an anxiety that is no exception for Black people who work with or worship with liberal white people in predominantly white churches. White church folks invested in anti-racism work understand that unpacking their racism (and the work that comes with it) rests solely on them and not on Black folks.

 

If you’re a white liberal churchgoer watching “Get Out,” here are some takeaways from Get Out that you don’t want to miss: Read more

Becoming a Sanctuary Church

“Immigrants and Refugees Welcome.” In resistance to the Executive Order banning refugees from seven majority Muslim countries and discriminating against Muslims, those have been the words on our sermon boards on both sides of our church. Until the Executive ban is fully rescinded, until ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is no longer directed to raid immigrant homes in our community, and until DACA (Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals) candidates no longer live in fear of unfair deportation, that sign will continue to hang prominently in front of the church I serve: The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington DC. As Christians seeking after God’s justice and because of our physical positioning — just four blocks east of the White House — we feel a deep calling to stand up as a Sanctuary Church.

Last spring Kathy Doan, a ruling elder at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and a longtime advocate for the immigrant community, and Maricelly Malave, Co-Founder of Sanctuary DMV (District Maryland Virginia), met with me to share an evolving need for churches and communities to join the New Sanctuary Movement. They shared the history of this ancient practice for temples, churches, and even whole cities to declare themselves as a place of refuge for people accused of crimes in which they feared unfair retribution. They shared that churches in the U.S. first provided sanctuary as part of the Underground Railroad, helping slaves pass to freedom during the Civil War. In the 1970s, when refugees from the civil wars in Central America came to the United States seeking shelter, the U.S. government did not recognize them as political refugees seeking asylum. Many were deported and faced death squads on their return. In response to this dire situation, the Sanctuary Movement was formed. At its peak, there were over 500 member congregations. In 1986, the Sanctuary Movement won the inclusion of Central America as part of our immigration laws.

Starting the summer of 2014, we started seeing the return of the humanitarian crisis with thousands of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence and forced gang participation in Central America seeking safely in the United States. Moreover, eleven million undocumented persons are living in the United States, many of whom have lived here for more than ten years. These members of our community — these friends, family members and neighbors — are all at risk of deportation. Read more