Immigration and Sanctuary

ELCA Declaration as a Sanctuary Denomination


At the 2019 trienniel ELCA Churchwide Assembly, delegates voted to declare the ELCA a sanctuary denomination with regard to immigration. Much still remains to be worked out for individual congregations as they discern what action, if any, fits with their unique contexts. 

The actual wording of the resolution is in the column at right. The link below will take you to Bishop Brian Maas's letter to the Church in the Nebraska Synod, and some talking points developed by Bishop Paul Erickson of the Greater Milwaukee Synod

Bishops Maas and Erickson

I would also encourage you to read my sermon from August 18 which addresses this important issue

Here are links to the divisions within the ELCA who deal with issues pertaining to immigrants and refugees



This is the final wording of the motion passed in Milwaukee. The initial motion was the recommendation of the Memorials Committee. The first amendment from the floor of the Assembly is noted in italics. The additional amendment from the floor is underlined.

CA 19.03.11 To receive with gratitude the memorial from the Metropolitan New York Synod concerning sanctuary;

To reaffirm the long-term and growing commitment of this church to migrants and refugees and to the policy questions involved, as exemplified most recently in the comprehensive strategy Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO);

To recognize that the ELCA in congregations, synods and the churchwide organization are already taking the actions requested by this memorial;

and To request that appropriate staff on the AMMPARO team, LIRS and the Domestic Mission, Global Mission, and Mission Advancement units review the existing strategies and practices by the five current sanctuary synods and develop a plan for additional tools that provide for education and discernment around sanctuary;

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America declares itself a sanctuary church body;

and To request the ELCA Church Council, in consultation with the appropriate churchwide units and offices, provide guidance for the three expressions of this church about what it means to be a sanctuary church body and provide a report to the 2022 Churchwide Assembly