Skip to content

Church in Wyoming, MI declares itself a Sanctuary for those Targeted by ICE

March 20, 2018

Earlier today, a United Church of Christ, in Wyoming, Michigan declared itself a Sanctuary Church in response to the ongoing repression of immigrants, especially those that are undocumented.

The Rev. Justo Gonzalez stated:

Immigrants always have been and will be welcome here! The United Church of Christ (UCC) is an Immigrant Welcoming Church.  IUC Ministerios Ríos de Agua Viva / Joy Like a River UCC is rooted in Love and Extravagant Welcome for all of God’s Creation. It is with Holy Boldness that we declare ourselves the first and only Sanctuary Church in the Grand Rapids Metropolitan area. 

We are clear, no matter who you are or where you have been on life’s journey, you will welcome here. Within this church anyone who needs it will find a warm welcome in a Safe and Sacred Space. We do not care about your immigration status. We care about you.  Let it be known that this Community of Faith celebrates diversity, experiences immigrants as a blessing, and will always uplift the dignity and worth of God’s creation.

Let it also be known that ICE, Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol will not be allowed to enter God’s house.  Holy Ground is Sacred. They can choose to break down our doors and forcibly enter but we will NEVER allow them access into this Safe and Sacred Ground known as the Church. 

Moreover, the war of Immigrants must end immediately.  The Church cannot stand in silence as the Trump Administration unleashes ICE in our neighborhoods, disrupts our communities, profiles Black, Brown and Asian citizens and immigrants. We will not stand for the profiling of our Muslim and other Communities of Faith. A violation on any of us is a violation of all of us.”

Rev. Gonzalez went on to say, “ICE can come to this church, but they cannot enter. If they break the doors down, we will film them taking our brothers and sisters and expose them for for engaging in this type of repression.”

This is the first time that an organization has declared itself a sanctuary in the Grand Rapids area, since the Koinonia House did it in 1986

Rev. Gonzalez was joined by a whole litany of people during the declaration made today, with several of the people standing with him invited to share a few thoughts about the importance of this work.

Rev. Grey, who is also a UCC Pastor, simply wanted to share some data, which illustrated how urgent this issue is. She stated that since the Trump administration took office, there have been 14,000 administrative arrests in the US of immigrants every month.

Gema Lowe, with Movimiento Cosecha GR, an immigrant led movement, shared the principles of her group by reading a statement, which stated in part that they are fighting for dignity, respect and permanent protection for all immigrants. Lowe also invited everyone in attendance to participate in the 4 day strike they are planning in late April through May 1st. They are asking people not to work, not to shop and to join them for several actions listed below.

There were two DACA students who also spoke during the Sanctuary announcement. Danny Caracheo, said that the US is not only a nation made up of immigrants, but that it is made up of people who are rebels.

The Rev. Colleen Squires, a Unitarian Pastor, said, “We can either build a wall or a longer table. My community choses to build a longer table to welcome everyone to sit at.

The Reverend Doug Van Doran, Pastor, Plymouth United Church of Christ, states, “Immigrants are our part of our American family. Dreamers are our children. This is their home, the land they know. We need to be certain that this is a land where DREAMS COME TRUE and Justice for Immigrants reigns and not where nightmares are inflicted.”

Richard Kessler, an immigration lawyer who has been practicing for 37 years, said that the current repression against immigrants might be the worst he has ever seen. “The Trump administration has a zero tolerance policy against immigrant. We need to have zero tolerance for ICE repression. We need to have zero tolerance for separating families. We need to have zero tolerance for the racism behind the federal government’s immigration policy.

Lastly, Rev. Traci Blackmon, also with the UCC, shared her appreciation for what was happening in Grand Rapids. She shared a beautiful interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan during her comments. At the end of her comments she ten said, “There is not a wall so high that we can’t tear down.

For those who are interested in supporting the new sanctuary church, you can contact Reverend Justo González, II at 716-989-9207, cell or

%d bloggers like this: