BOULDER - Reverend Kelly Dignan of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder is a big fan of making plans, however, she's become familiar with the unexpected. As she addressed her congregation on Sunday morning, she braced herself for even more unfamiliarity.
Dignan said her church has supported families affected by deportation for years including "companioning immigrants whose families have been torn apart" or "grieving when we see children's fathers be taken away."
"We've been attending vigils at the ICE detention center, praying and shouting support for those who are victims of a broken immigration system," Dignan said.
Sunday morning, they decided whether to open their doors if someone facing deportation needed sanctuary. 121 of the church's members voted Sunday afternoon including Jon Bond who said he's been part of the congregation for nearly four decades.
"I voted yes," he said. "I'm for becoming a sanctuary. My main motivation is keeping families together. Separating families to me is morally and ethically unjust."
Jon wasn't alone with his opinion. More than 90 percent voted yes which means the church which means the church will soon become what Dignan always hoped it could be.
"One of our spiritual practices is justice-making," she said. "We talk about it all the time and today this congregation got a chance to put it into practice."
Dignan said she's encouraged by what is next but it isn't exactly clear what that will be. There are still things to be smoothed out including concerns from a preschool that leases space in the church worried about the increased attention the church could receive.
She's hopeful she and her team can work out something constructive with the school's leaders.
Dignan said the next step is to make some structural changes to the church, like adding a shower. They'll then work their partners at the Denver Metro Sanctuary Coalition to learn exactly who they might be hosting.
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