At the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the 3.4 million-member mainline Protestant denomination approved a resolution, or “memorial,” making themselves a “sanctuary church.” The vote came by a clear majority of the voting delegates raising green cards and reportedly made the ELCA the first denomination in North America to identify as a sanctuary body.
In 2017, the Metro NY Synod declared itself one of the first major metropolitan Sanctuary Synods of the ELCA.
You may wonder… what does this mean? ELCA Bishop Tracie L. Bartholomew from NJ offers a helpful description. See the rest of her comments in the first link below.
“In 2016, the ELCA adopted the AMMPARO strategy, which speaks about sanctuary as everything from holding English classes to housing people to writing to congress – all of these are ways of being sanctuary. This action does not ask anyone to engage in illegal behavior. Because we are church in three expressions (congregations, synods, and churchwide) the decision made at the Churchwide Assembly to become a sanctuary church body, only applies to the churchwide expression. Any congregation or synod wishing to become a sanctuary entity is free to decide to do so, or not. No congregation or synod is compelled to take on that designation. If a congregation wishes to become a sanctuary entity, it should also decide what that will mean.”
Check out the following links for more info about the church wide vote:
New Jersey Bishop Tracie L. Bartholomew Letter
ELCA Follows Movement Led by the Metropolitan New York Synod
Washington Post Article – An entire Lutheran denomination has declared itself a ‘sanctuary church body,’ signaling support for immigrants
Evangelical Lutheran Church Declares Itself a Sanctuary Denomination