Since the beginning of the year, more than 800 congregations in 30 American cities have joined the New Sanctuary Movement (NSM). An interfaith effort organized by Christian activist Alexia Salvatierra, NSM religious institutions have pledged to open their doors to undocumented immigrants worried that authorities may arrest them or separate their families. (Read CT’s interview with Salvatierra.)
At this point, most of the churches that have joined the New Sanctuary Movement are progressive congregations. New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento is one of the few evangelical congregations that’s announced something similar, what Time Magazine recently called a “safe haven” program. The program is specifically focused on meeting the urgent needs of undocumented immigrants, those fleeing domestic violence, or those affected by gang fights. So far, New Season has set up more than two dozen beds for congregants looking to escape immigration raids and hosted more than half a dozen families.
“A safe haven is a place where we can offer a place of rest from turmoil from those things which are troubling people,” said Charlie Rivera, who pastors New Season’s Spanish language ministry and leads the safe haven program. “We offer a sense of hope and spiritual help.”
The church’s program is not meant to oppose or thwart the government, said Rivera.
“We’re not here to break any law or do anything illegal,” he said. “Our main goal is to assist people who are in need.”
Rivera joined Morgan and Mark to discuss why he doesn’t believe his church is harboring criminals, why New Season has seen a surge of Hispanic attendees, and how Christians can encourage undocumented immigrants to do the right thing.
(Note: New Season’s pastor, Sam Rodriguez, serves on CT’s board, and recently appeared on Quick to Listen to discuss his rationale for praying at Trump’s inauguration.)