First Unitarian Church of Louisville addresses the need for justice for undocumented immigrants
At the 2017 annual meeting of First Unitarian Church, the members present voted unanimously in support of a resolution to form an Immigration Justice Leadership Team (IJLT), based on the guidelines developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association, specifically to determine the feasibility of offering sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant.
The IJLT was composed of representatives from each of the five church ministries and two at-large members. Our team created opportunities throughout the year for the congregation to learn about and reflect on this issue.
Besides acting on the congregation’s original charge to conduct a physical assessment of the church, we gathered information and personal stories of undocumented immigrants living in Louisville and how U.S. laws and regulations were affecting their daily lives; learned more about the government agencies that are charged with enforcing these laws; created a web page listing the original resolution and information resources; interviewed a member of St. William’s Catholic Church about its experiences when it sheltered a woman in the 1980s from El Salvador who fled her country to escape a civil war; hosted a Celebration of Life service focused on immigration justice; held a series of presentations and workshops; submitted a letter to the Courier-Journal declaring our church’s support for immigration justice based on UU principles; and joined the local Interfaith Coalition for Immigration Justice on behalf of our church.
We did all this because we wanted to do as much as we could to learn about immigration on our own and share what we learn with the congregation so that our members could make an informed decision at the 2018 annual meeting.
After much discussion and a tour of the church building, IJLT concluded that the church did not have the space to offer physical sanctuary. However, after meeting with and listening to undocumented immigrants and the people who are trying to help them cope with arrest, detention, or deportation, it became clear that our church needed to find a way to ease the suffering so many people are experiencing because of the uneven and often immoral application of immigration law.
Therefore, IJLT submitted this resolution at the 2018 annual meeting to the members present. The resolution passed.
We look forward to the challenging work we as a church must do to honor this resolution.
First Unitarian Church Immigration Justice Leadership Team:
Kathy Kremer, Chair (Resources Ministry)
Jane Martin Buckley (Worship Ministry)
Barbra Justice (At-large member)
Elizabeth Fairhead (Religious Exploration Ministry)
Nancy MacPherson (Connections Ministry)
Trish Ramey (Mission and Outreach Ministry)
Jasmine Walston (At-large member)