When First Congregational Church UCC in Albuquerque decided to take an undocumented Iraqi national into sanctuary, many people in the church understood the decision was one of justice and love. But not everyone was not happy. Some people left the church, and their financial support left with them. The losses of both people and dollars were painful. Still, leaders believed that God would be faithful to them, because they were sure God had called them into the ministry of sanctuary. I am sharing this much of their amazing story with you as one of the ways I’m saying, “Thank you, Rev. Sue Joiner and First Congregational Church UCC/Albuquerque, for your leadership and your courage in the struggle for justice and peace!”
United Church of Santa Fe believes in the ministry of sanctuary. For several reasons, including their facility limitations, they are not equipped to physically host persons seeking sanctuary. When they heard about First Church’s decision and its consequence, United Church of Santa Fe wanted to help.
Words can’t describe the feelings that came over me when I received Rev. Talitha Arnold’s email.
The United Church of Santa Fe Church Council voted this past Thursday to send $5000 to the Southwest Conference to be sent on to First Congregational Church in Albuquerque for their ongoing operating expenses and to help defray some of the income lost due to their providing sanctuary for the Iraqi man who is facing deportation.
I am sharing their story with you as part of my saying, “Thank you, Pastor Talitha Arnold and United Church of Santa Fe, for your generosity and covenant partnership!”
Taken together, these stories incarnate what being in covenant as churches and as Southwest Conference members means. The story of First Church/Albuquerque and United Church of Santa Fe also puts flesh on these New Testament words: If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
Every day something comes across my email or my phone that makes me say, “What a wonderful conference this is! I love this job; I love these people!” You need to know about those stories. Watch for them in the Church News blog on the conference website! Thank you for being true partners with one another as we live into our shared mission.