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Be Alert to Possibilities

The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith, Bishop of Missouri, reflects on the principle of sanctuary:

Almost every parish or mission in Missouri has the resources and the character necessary to help newcomers resettle in our country. The smaller church which I served in Des Moines could and did sponsor refugee families as they came to Iowa. Circumstances have changed since the 1990s and various resettlement agencies around our diocese may or may not allow churches (or other religious organizations) to have direct involvement in this work. New executive guidelines may mean that immigrants and refugees will be few in number, but I encourage all our congregations to be alert to possibilities.

As to the issue of asylum, it is not my intention to designate our entire diocese a sanctuary for persons who might otherwise be deported. However, some communities examining their own resources as well as the tradition, and knowing the yearnings among their people, may choose to offer sanctuary to those in need. Their offer may be broad, open-ended, and very public, or it may arise from a particular set of circumstances and amount to a one-time arrangement. Decisions should take into account matters of law insofar as they offer protections, limitations, and risks. The law, however, offers more ambiguities than clear answers. I offer myself for conversation, consultation, and support for any cleric or congregation trying to make sense of a call to offer refuge.

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