Dear UUCC Member,
This serves as official notification that a special congregational meeting will be held Sunday, July 9, 2017 at noon, for the purpose of reconsidering becoming a sanctuary congregation. This meeting has been called, per the bylaws, by a petition signed by 25% of the congregation. UUCC members may vote in person at the meeting or via absentee ballot, enclosed with this letter, if unable to attend the meeting. Ballots will also be available at the church beginning Sunday June 18, 2017.
Please review the materials enclosed:
- A resolution to serve as a sanctuary church;
- An absentee ballot for those unable to attend the meeting on July 9, 2017; (click on the link for the form)
- FAQ information on becoming a sanctuary congregation;
- Information on the voting process, which follows.
Voting Process: UUCC members are invited to vote on the enclosed resolution either via absentee ballot or in person at the meeting to be held Sunday, July 9, 2017 at noon. The board has determined that this issue requires more members to vote than the minimum listed in the bylaws. Thus, the following apply to the vote on the sanctuary resolution:
- 50% plus 1 of UUCC members must vote affirmatively for the resolution for it to be passed.
- Absentee ballots will be accepted. Ballots must be filled out completely to be valid (signed, printed name and date) and returned to the church prior to 12 PM on July 9, 2017.
- Per the bylaws, a quorum of 25% of the membership must be present at the meeting on July 9 in order for business to be conducted. If we do not have a quorum, the absentee ballots will not be counted.
For more information on becoming a sanctuary congregation, we recommend reviewing some or all of the following materials, which answer most questions about serving as a sanctuary church:
- The book of materials available in the lobby of the church
- UUCC’s website at: http://www.uucheyenne.org/becoming-sanctuary-congregation/
- The UUA’s website http://www.uua.org/immigration/witness/partners/newsanctuary
We strongly encourage every member to participate in this vote on becoming a sanctuary congregation. Please plan to attend the meeting on July 9, 2017 at noon, or vote absentee prior to that time if you are unable to be there.
Yours in faith,
The Board of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne
Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne
Proposed resolution regarding Sanctuary Church
Special Vote of the Congregation, July 9, 2017
Whereas, the principles of Unitarian Universalism call us to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and to seek a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; regardless of the happenstance of where they were born. Millions of people have immigrated to the United States outside of the legal process for the purpose of escaping poverty, dictatorial regimes, and/or the lack of basic human rights in the place of their birth. These individuals, many of whom have lived in this country for years and have contributed much to it, deserve humane treatment and a pathway to eventual legal residence or citizenship and
Whereas, in 2012 the congregation of Unitarian Universalist Church embarked on a community effort to help and support the victims and families affected by a raid on undocumented workers by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and further, in response to actions of the United States ICE agents, a mother and her child died from suicide based on a misunderstanding of her rights, and
Whereas, President Donald Trump’s issuance of an Executive Order on “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” on January 25, 2017, attempting to ban immigration from seven predominately Muslim countries, demonstrates that the President intends to carry out a campaign to discriminate against Muslims, immigrants, and refugees;
Therefore, be it resolved that we, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne, publicly declare our intent to be a Sanctuary Church, to offer lodging and support within our church building to immigrants, as the members of the Vetting Team deem appropriate, with periodic reports to the members, Minister and to the Board of Trustees regarding actions taken pursuant to this resolution. And further, that we dedicate ourselves to educate and activate our congregation, to amplify and respond to the voices of immigrant leaders, and to speak out against discrimination toward any and all marginalized people.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- The Sanctuary Movement is a growing movement of faith and immigrant communities protecting and standing with immigrants facing deportation. Unitarian Universalists are joining the many religious leaders, congregations, and faith-based organizations of all denominations which are part of the Movement. Through the Sanctuary Movement, faith communities can powerfully enact and embody their commitment to justice. A church that declares itself a Sanctuary congregation is one willing to welcome undocumented people, help stop deportations, assist with legal clinics, and physically shelter an immigrant in danger of immediate deportation.As UUCC continues discussions about becoming a Sanctuary church, several questions have arisen which your Immigration Justice team will attempt to address. We realize that the call to offer Sanctuary means living with much uncertainty about the process. If you have other questions or concerns, please contact Rev Audette or members of the immigration team for further information.1) Who would we accept? How would we vet people who might want sanctuary to know that they are appropriate candidates and have a chance of making it through the immigration system? The immigrant community of Cheyenne, like most around the country, is a strong advocate for their needs and rights. It is this group, along with partner churches and community supporters, that we must turn to for help in vetting any potential Sanctuary guest. Our guest will be someone who has been working to stop his/her deportation order without success but has a reasonable potential of receiving a stay of removal. As part of offering Sanctuary, the people of UUCC, partner faith communities, Cheyenne advocates, and lawyers will work together for a positive resolution of the case. Regarding criminal history, we strongly recommend that a determination for sanctuary be made on a case-by-case basis. The legal issues affecting undocumented people can be very complicated and may include felonies, such as crossing the border more than once. Legal history is another factor that could affect positive outcome of the case. The UUCC vetting team should include folks from the immigration team, a bilingual community member with strong ties to our immigrant residents, and members of the UUCC board. The offer of Sanctuary to a particular guest should be voted on by the Executive Committee of the board, and the ability to communicate and make a decision very quickly will be paramount. 2) Budget. What sorts of things require funds besides the obvious of food, transportation, etc.? One aspect of budgeting that the church can count on is the small increase in utility charges related to having someone living in the building full time (heat, water, electricity). Beyond that, there is no way to plan a specific budget. Our guest could be strongly supported by family and friends and have very few needs for us to fill, or we could have a guest who is the breadwinner, and his or her needs will be much greater. Some basic needs of the guest might include hygiene, food, grocery shopping, laundry, transportation, and legal fees. In speaking with other churches in the region, we have learned they have offered no budget at all, so they rely on donations, fundraisers, and community partners and supporters. As of this writing, the Immigration Justice Coalition of Laramie County and the Social Justice Coalition of UUCC have nearly $1500 that could be used. In addition we can create a Faithify Campaign plus ask for contributions from faith and community partners. It is essential that we have our community coalition in place prior to taking someone into Sanctuary. At this time we are not recommending any budget for our Sanctuary effort.
3) Who will help us offer Sanctuary?
Again, we must create a strong community coalition that will help us with basic needs and the many other tasks involved in Sanctuary. Immigrant, host, and support communities will organize and support fundraising, legal advice and action, creation of partner individuals and groups, advocacy for policy change and individual case resolution, community education, and other needs. This partnership needs to be strongly organized prior to accepting a guest.
Currently, we have commitment from the members of the Immigration Justice Coalition (IJCLC) to help with various skills and services needed. In addition, Highlands Presbyterian Church is offering to partner with us. We also expect that interested community members will support us as they learn about our efforts. You will have the opportunity to add your name to this growing list of advocates. Look for the signup sheets in the church lobby. From this list of volunteers, task teams will be organized and a leadership committee will be established.
4) What are our legal and insurance issues?
There is a law against bringing in and harboring persons not authorized to be in the US (INA Sec.274). Some courts have interpreted harboring to require concealment of a person. When we declare sanctuary for an individual, we do that openly, not in secret. While no congregation has been prosecuted for allowing undocumented people shelter in their house of worship, we are unsure how the current administration will respond to declarations of sanctuary.
Regarding insurance, Church Mutual has been clear that they will not cover any claim that they can trace to our sanctuary work, including building or personal liability. There is no case law or legal precedent for church insurance claims regarding sanctuary. The UUCC policy is currently in line with those of other UU congregations.
5) What will our new minister, Hannah Villnave, think of our Sanctuary efforts?
Rev Audette has been in contact with Rev Hannah and reports that she is most enthusiastic about our social justice efforts. Rev Hannah will be in Cheyenne from April 23-30. The immigration team will visit with her on the 27th, and there will be some open Q and A sessions when you can discuss this with her.
In the church lobby you will find a table with immigration and sanctuary information as well as a signup sheet where you can volunteer to help with the various needs of offering Sanctuary. Be sure to look at the Sanctuary Toolkit for more answers regarding your questions or concerns. https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/sanctuary-toolkit-2017.pdf
Our immigrant residents, the UUCC Immigration Team, and many members and friends have committed themselves to immigration justice and supporting our church in becoming a Sanctuary. We hope you will join us at the UUCC Annual meeting on May 21. Help us say YES to Standing on the Side of Love, YES to translating our values into action, and YES to becoming Sanctuary!
Sandi Gaulke, Jim Gaulke, Sleeter Dover, Gayle Roberts, Rev Audette