Ulster County Sanctuaries Stand as One


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

We will not be silent. Ulster County houses of worship stand as one. As people of faith we affirm our commitment to Audacious Hospitality, to treating the strangers in our midst with justice and compassion, with the very dignity, respect and love with which we hope to be treated.  Scripture teaches: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” – Leviticus 19:33

We once again lay claim to our shared ancient heritage of protecting the vulnerable – those who are being threatened with deportation. We do not acknowledge the crossing of borders without authorization for reasons of survival to be a crime. And those who have endured such a perilous passage remain entitled to our care and compassion.

We affirm the enduring moral legitimacy of sanctuary even though it may no longer have legal standing. We expect federal immigration agents and their surrogates to honor those established protocols that designate houses of worship as sensitive locations in which immigrants are not apprehended. If sanctuary is going to be violated, then we expect that this will never happen without a warrant signed by a federal judge.

We affirm the need to protect the lives and well-being of undocumented immigrants fearing deportation. We pledge to resist all efforts to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities. Undocumented immigrants are our neighbors; they are our friends. We are co-workers; our children study together. We affirm our responsibility to protect all members of our community, especially those targeted by hate.

We affirm the sanctity of family. Parents ought not be traumatically separated from their children. Husbands or wives ought not be forcibly separated from their spouses. Our doors will remain open for every person to find shelter, protection, and sanctuary in God’s house. Every person in our community deserves the right to live without fear.

As a community we stand as ONE, committed to various meaningful actions to assist undocumented immigrants facing deportation. Among these actions there will be some houses of worship in our community that will be provide temporary physical shelter. All of us will rally to provide necessary ancillary supports as we are able.

Reverend Deacon Teri Jones, Ascension Church, Ulster Park
Reverend Sonja Tillberg Maclary, Christ Lutheran Church, Woodstock
Reverend Alison Quin, Christ the King Episcopal Church, Stone Ridge
Reverend Darlene Kelley, Clinton Avenue United Methodist Church, Kingston
Reverend Jeremy Mills, Clinton Avenue United Methodist Church, Kingston
Rabbi Yael Romer, Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley, Kingston
Reverend Kendra Van Houten, Fair Street Reformed Church, Kingston
Reverend Bruce Torrey, Food for the Poor
Reverend Frank Alagna, Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, Kingston
Reverend Filomena Servellon, Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, Kingston
Reverend Justin Johnson, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Kingston (signed as an individual)
Hudson Valley Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America
Reverend Renee House, Old Dutch Reformed Church, Kingston
Reverend Paul Smith, Overlook United Methodist Church, Woodstock
Reverend James B. Childs, Pointe of Praise Church, Kingston
Reverend Elke Heckler, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Kingston
Reverend James Rowe, Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kingston
Reverend Paul C. Walley, Redeemer Lutheran Church, New Paltz (signed as an individual)
Reverend Doris Edwards, Riverview Missionary Baptist Church, Kingston
Reverend Richard Witt, Rural and Migrant Ministries
Reverend Matthew Wright, St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Woodstock
Reverend Jordan Scruggs, St. James United Methodist Church, Kingston
(signed as an individual)
Reverend Canon Jeff Golliher, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ellenville
Reverend Deacon Susan Bonsteel, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Kingston
Reverend Michelle Meech, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Kingston
Shady United Methodist Church
Reverend Erica Baron, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills
Reverend William Hill, Saugerties

Public domain images from http://Wikimedia Commons.