Beyond sanctuary: new orientations for church support of immigrant communities

“Project Quotation: “Excuse me, what if what we need and want is not to go into your sanctuary but for you to join us in the streets? Will you do that?” ”

Team Members/Contributors

Janna L. Hunter-Bowman Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

The question of how best to support immigrants is a major concern for many North American churches, and projections of climate migration suggest it will become an even larger one. The sanctuary movement has been the primary model for predominantly White Christian churches responding to immigrants since the 1980s, yet it is no longer viable due to assumptions about agency and vulnerability that govern it. The approach positions churches as subjects and immigrants as vulnerable beneficiaries. Based on engaged research with _Movimiento Cosecha_, an undocumented immigrant-led social movement, this project continues a research trajectory theorizing a particular form of agency that I have introduced to peace studies. Specifically, this is not just agency of “the marginalized” but the agency of those in a much more specific location; those “under duress.” Considering immigrant agency under duress, the problems of sanctuary, and opportunities generated by the interlinked crisis of climate change-induced humanitarian disasters, conflict, and mass migration, this project proposes a successor model to sanctuary for North American churches. It involves decentering sanctuary and shifting towards a radically democratic form of community with immigrants, pluralistic social movements, and place-based politics.