"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," reads the poem by Emma Lazarus inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. The practice of sanctuary -- providing a haven to immigrants, refugees, homeless, or displaced people in a house of worship -- supports this invitation. Religious groups have heeded the call to care for and welcome the stranger for thousands of years. Explore how your faith community might provide sanctuary. If your building is unused during the week, you might convert a classroom to a place for people to sleep. In daytime, you might create opportunities for people to connect with social workers, lawyers, and organizations who can offer advice, translation services, and other kinds of assistance. Some congregations have teams that accompany immigrants to their check-ins with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), providing emotional support and, if necessary, alerting families and lawyers if someone is detained. No matter how a faith community decides to respond, the process of discussing how and why to provide sanctuary -- and even the logistics of what changes you would need to make to your facility to accommodate strangers -- enables a congregation to consider its obligations to civic engagement.

Kristin Ritzau, Mary Ann Brussat in Practicing Democracy with Your Faith Community