Duluth Church Prepares To Offer Immigrants Sanctuary

Peace United Church Of Christ Plans to Fundraise to Create Living Quarters

A church in Duluth is now in talks with contractors ready to build bunk beds, a shower and kitchen on their property to offer as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

Peace United Church of Christ voted Sunday to become a “Sanctuary Church.”

They’ll provide shelter to protect people seeking documentation from being deported. It’s the church is the first of its kind in the Northland.

Out of 150 people that voted, 145 voted ‘yes’ to create as space that could be used as sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

“Churches, schools and hospitals those are the places which neither ICE or border patrol can come in, make arrests, detain or interview people related to immigration status,” said church member Charlotte Frantz.

It’s an option the church has been thinking about since last January. They plan to renovate their garage into a space a family or individual could live in for months.

They say faith, and the bible calls them to love their neighbors, and called them to make this decision.

“Folks seeking documentation generally are contributing members of communities,” said church member Kevin Skwira-Brown. “They’re in our neighborhoods already. They are members of this community that at the moment, don’t have legal status in this country.”

The church isn’t sure if anyone in this community needs their help now, but wants to be ready if that is the case.

“We’ll see, we do know some of the students in the community could be affected by DACA,” said Rev. Kathryn Nelson. “We’re there if people need us.”

This isn’t a decision they’ve made without a lot of planning, they also have a process in mind for vetting and screening potential residents.

“We’ll meet face to face with them, person to person,” said Skwira-Brown. “Hear one another’s story; we have an obligation to safety of the neighborhood and the safety of the community, safety of staff.”

The church is also working directly with many other churches in the area. They say so far 6 others have promised to help out with volunteer and resources if a person needs the sanctuary.

The church plans to fundraise to afford the cost of the garage renovation to create that living space, but they can also house someone immediately in a smaller area they have available

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