SUMMIT, NJ - In a unanimous vote that included two abstentions, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit has elected to become a 'sanctuary congregation', with the Congregation aiming to "serve immigrants and discourage the use of harsh deportation measures and unjust enforcement."
The congregation approved a resolution on the issue June 5 at its annual meeting, which was attended by 105 voting members. The vote followed several months of town meetings and discussions.
The congregation pledges to make a concerted effort to extend sanctuary beyond its walls by visiting detainees, sponsoring an immigrant and / or a family, and to support other communities serving as physical sanctuary sites. Several members of the congregation’s Refugee Response Ministry are already making regular visits to detainees in New Jersey immigration jails.
“Becoming a sanctuary congregation, including offering physical shelter, goes to the core of our faith as Unitarian Universalists,” said Rev. Robin Tanner, Beacon’s minister of worship and outreach.
“At Beacon, we believe in the worth and dignity of every person. No human being is illegal. Our chalice is taken from a symbol once utilized to guarantee safe passage to refugees. To gather each week and kindle the light of our chalice, to honor those who came before us, we are called to offer sanctuary."
To plan next steps and to keep the congregation informed, Beacon’s Board of Trustees will create a Sanctuary Task Force composed of a board member, a representative from the congregation’s Social Justice Team and the Leadership Team, which is made up of Rev. Tanner; Rev. Emilie Boggis, minister of congregational life; and Tuli Patel, executive director.
Beacon's stated mission "is to be a radically inclusive religious community that feeds the human spirit and heals the world." A member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, Beacon recently changed its name from The Unitarian Church in Summit.