The Sanctuary Ministry of Washington National Cathedral

by | Oct 14, 2020

Through prayer and action, the Sanctuary Ministry of Washington National Cathedral (leer en español) supports immigrants and refugees, whose lives are threatened and upended because of their migration status. These, our brothers and sisters, are wrongfully profiled, at risk of detention, deportation, and family separation. With COVID-19, they have become even more vulnerable to illness, economic hardship, and death with little access to redress or relief. 

As St. Oscar Romero reminds us, “The ones who have a voice must speak for those who are voiceless.”

The Sanctuary Ministry focuses on education, advocacy, prayer and support of migrants and refugees. 

Educate congregations and organizations within our diocese: Recently, we launched a series of “Fact Sheets” to counter immigration myths and demystify terms like ICE (the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency), DACA (the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program) and TPS (Temporary Protected Status designation) so that churches and individuals have a basic understanding of the issues associated with immigration and can become effective partners and advocates for those in detention, those fearing deportation, and those impacted by COVID-19 with job loss and/or sickness. 

Advocate: We’ve created weekly “Action Alert” communiques (here’s a recent one) for rapid response to developing issues that need to be addressed. Members of the Ministry are now active in putting together a national Detention Ministry Network, coordinated by the Episcopal Migration Ministries.

Support: We reach out to those in detention through visitation and letter writing as well as helping to support families in our communities with groceries, diapers, rent and other needs as they arise. The network of local faith-based coalitions and human rights groups has given us a much greater exposure to and understanding of the challenges for immigrants at risk. 

Pray: A group meets each weekday at 5:00 p.m. for prayer and contemplation; we welcome anyone who wishes to join our virtual group of sacred fellowship. We pray that our own hearts are opened as we care for our neighbors; we pray for those who are fighting the injustices of our existing immigration system; and we pray for the immigrants and refugees themselves. All are welcome to these meetings, please sign up through the Cathedral’s calendar

This ministry is open to all: Although based in Washington National Cathedral, this ministry includes members from a number of Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Washington along with other churches. The Ministry meets each month, featuring speakers who are themselves immigrants along with representatives of partner organizations from across the country. All are welcome to these meetings.

As we respond to Bishop Mariann’s call to action during this election season, we invite parishioners across the Diocese to inform themselves about the issues, and in particular, about immigration.  

If you have questions, are interested in joining our ministry, or wish to attend our next online monthly gathering, please email us. All are welcome. 

Dora Currea, Marty Dickinson, and Claudia Russell
Co-chairs, the Washington National Cathedral Sanctuary Ministry