Sanctuary and Dissent

—by Julian DeShazier

It has been 3 weeks since Jose Juan Federico Moreno entered University Church, and you are probably wondering how things are going. In any other world, and probably most other faith communities that would take this on, the answer would be, “Amazing! Look how Faithful we’re being!”

Or LOOK, we’re on the cover of the Chicago Tribune! –>

But since we have decided to not Iive in a world where doing the right thing is a cause for celebration, there are other ways to think through this worth mentioning.

For example, Sanctuary, when used as a tactic to draw attention to the flaws in immigration policy as a whole and grossly affected individuals – like Jose Juan – is best when the press is applying to apply pressure on ICE to revisit his case. Yesterday the story was on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, a petition we’re circulating has 2,934 signatures, and many people are calling and visiting the church asking how they can support — so we’re doing OK. I’ll spare you the voicemails I get every day asking why we’re “harboring illegal aliens” and the legalese that explains why we’re all felons. Suffice it to say, Jose Juan being here is about him fighting to stay with his family and a people of faith choosing to support him in that fight. We’re not harboring felons…we’re loving humans.

The story of Virgilio Vicente will be an important one to share in coming weeks. As many of you know, Virgilio and his family were the first to stay in Sanctuary at UChurch in 1985, and people need to see beyond the immediate present to see how good advocacy can truly change and save lives with a generational impact. People also need to see that words like “moral” and “justice” have to have meaning in ways that include those that live and look differently than us. Why are things “obviously unfair” only if you are affected?

If anything, I am reminded daily that the voices of dissent should never weigh more internally than the voices of support, and that neither of these should matter as much as the voice of God. From time to time we can get discouraged by a couple of naysayers in our life. I’m not saying “ignore them” (they may be right, you should ask yourself if they have a point), but I am saying that you are probably reacting stronger to dissent than support. It’s the human way. Look out for that. You don’t need support or dissent: these are the necessary and broken byproducts on the search for what you really desire…Truth. Understanding of Purpose. Real Wisdom. Genuine Community.

As pastor, I am honored to support you however I can in that journey. And I’m thankful for your support of us as we advocate for Jose Juan.