Last year, after the presidential election, interfaith clergy in Evanston gathered for our monthly luncheon. For years we have talked about how to work together for the common good. The election hit us, as a group, hard. We knew there was hard work ahead.
We asked, “What can we do?” So the Evanston interfaith community “gathered on the side of love” at Fountain Square to commit ourselves to action—to side with, as the Hebrew Scriptures teach, the “orphan, widow, and stranger.” In the Bible, the idea of stranger specifically includes the immigrant, the stranger to your land who brings both discomfort and gifts.
We said that very cold November day we would consider the ideas of sanctuary and solidarity, and at the next clergy lunch up went sign-up sheets for what would become three “Evanston4All” teams: a Faith Resource Team; a Solidarity Response Team; a Uniting Voices Team.
Rev. Eileen has been working with the Evanston4All Solidarity Response Team, which would respond to events like immigration raids or hate-based acts in non-violent ways. I have been co-leading the Faith Resources Team to provide theological grounding, speakers, and liturgy for Evanston faith-based public rallies and solidarity gatherings. Finally, there is our Uniting Voices Team to educate and rebuild through non-violent communication, cooperation, courageous dialogue, and shared action.
Dozens of congregations and community organizations have been participating, learning, and training—and now it is our turn to respond as a leader institution in Evanston. From Evanston4All’s work, the interfaith coalition has written a Community Sanctuary Resolution for us to adopt. A team of lawyers with specializations in immigration law has vetted the language, and the document’s brilliance is that is does not dictate how UCE, or any individual congregation, will be a “sanctuary.” Instead, it offers many choices on ways we can live into our aspirations to comfort and aid the most vulnerable among us in these times. There are far more choices in the document than any one congregation can implement, but that is the point. We must work together.
We held a rally on November 12 to introduce the resolution to the community. You can read about who showed up here.
On December 17th UCE will have a special Sunday of Solidarity. We will begin with a short service at 9:15 where we will sing, reflect on the Christmas message as it relates to our times, and celebrate as always our commitment to justice. At 10:00 we will gather to vote on Evanston’s Sanctuary Community Resolution, which, again, says not what actions we will take (that comes next!) but that we will work with other communities of faith in Evanston to do all we can, in our own ways, as a community of solidarity, strength, and hope. Evanston’s mayor and police chief have both spoken in support of this resolution. I hope that you, too, will vote “yes” on this resolution for which Evanston’s entire interfaith community has worked for a year. It is a gift to our congregation and all our neighbors.