At a congregational meeting on Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017, the congregation chose enthusiastically and unanimously to become an immigrant-welcoming congregation.
We adopted the covenant below.
We rejoice in the congregation’s commitment to support our immigrant neighbors and to oppose efforts to divide families through deportation.
Unfortunately, our immigrant-welcoming banner, which had hung outside the front of the church for four months, was ripped down and stolen the night before this action. We are undeterred. By God’s grace, we will persist.
First Congregational Church of Amherst
We are an Immigrant-Welcoming Congregation. We practice hospitality to immigrants from all nations. We commit to supporting interfaith efforts protecting all people, acting with justice and compassion, and seeking to end practices that divide families and weaken our communities.
As Christians, we have a calling to love all of our neighbors. In doing this, we pledge to work together for justice for people of all races, religions, nationalities, and political affiliations. Our faith tradition and sacred texts are saturated with stories about immigrants. Providing a safe place for those who are victims of unjust laws is one of the most ancient traditions that we have as a people of faith.
We commit to supporting immigrants and immigrant families, who are woven into the fabric of our communities, but may face separation and deportation by the immigration system.
As a congregation, we covenant to welcome and support our immigrant neighbors. We do so remembering that this is not something that we do for our immigrant neighbors; it is something we do with them. As a community of faith, we support an immigrant-welcoming ministry team to engage in actions and offer opportunities for the congregation that may include:
• amplifying the moral imperative to stop deportations by educating ourselves and others about the history and the current face of immigration in our country, including hearing and lifting up personal stories of immigrants in our communities.
• supporting state and local legislation to create Immigrant-Welcoming and/or Sanctuary communities.
• participating and helping create “circles of support” to provide “know your rights” education, legal assistance, housing assistance, family and bail support funds, and to assist at-risk or separated immigrant families with transportation, meals, childcare and/or other daily living needs.
• supporting “sanctuary in the streets” networks to accompanying our immigrant community members, congregants and neighbors facing deportation to hearings or other encounters with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
• praying for immigrants; and praying for our current and future leaders to take positions of discernment, compassion and morality with respect to immigrants and the immigrant community.
• listening, sharing, learning, and praying with members of our faith community to deepen our understanding and support for immigrants in the wider community.