Voluntary Sanctuary Training
By Jeanette Anderson, Published on October 9, 2017
This past summer, I attended a two hour training session for sanctuary volunteers at the Eliot Church in Newton. The training was conducted by a veteran, lay leader whose own church in Cambridge has had guests for two months. Because of the Syrian refugee crisis, the Muslim ban and other immigration issues, I had been interested in the sanctuary movement and had attended meetings of the Sanctuary Task Force at First Parish. I was interested in the “do’s and don’ts” of sanctuary volunteerism, not background information, and that is exactly what we received. You are not a therapist nor a recreational director. Above all, we were given the assurance that any questions or issues we felt inadequate to respond to could be referred to the volunteer coordinator. This training was in preparation for shifts at a nearby Level 1, Newton church, for which I had volunteered, and which was expecting guests within weeks. There are many volunteer activities I can no longer perform efficiently, but I can take a sanctuary volunteer shift. Since that time I have learned that those particular guests chose not to seek refuge, but others are expected shortly.
Presently, at First Parish, the Sanctuary Task Force of the Immigrant Ministry recommends that First Parish become a Level 2 Sanctuary congregation, thereby taking a stand on this critical issue, and enabling First Parish to support a Level 1 church who has adequate space. I hope this becomes a reality; First Parish, while not a large church makes a loud noise when we band together.