We will love God, one another, and the Earth by providing sanctuary, practicing hospitality, and performing ministry.
I have spent the previous three weeks exploring how UCCI lives out the first half of our mission statement. This week I would like to continue in the exploration by unpacking the concept of providing sanctuary. Traditionally the term Sanctuary is used in reference to the room within a church where people gather for worship. While we do have a traditional sanctuary within the chapel of Pilgrim Center, that is not necessarily how we are using the term in our mission statement. Sanctuary is also a word that has been in the news quite a bit in the last couple of months. In that setting it has usually been in reference to our latest immigration practices and the efforts of some to provide a safe place for those individuals who may or may not be residing in our country legally.
UCCI has not intentionally inserted ourselves into the immigration discussion but maybe that use of the term comes closer to our use of the word than simply a room within a church. At our facilities we work hard at providing a physical space in which everyone who occupies our grounds can feel safe. In a world where tragically, too many people do not feel safe all too often, this is not an idea we take lightly. Our staff is very intentional about creating spaces and situations in which all who are involved can easily be held accountable for their actions. We do not live in a perfect world and there is undoubtedly always room for improvement, but it is an objective that we hold very high.
We do also see our facilities as a physical sanctuary. In the world of outdoor ministry we certainly do not limit God’s presence to one specific room within a special building, but rather, we believe God’s presence surrounds us in all that we do. At times our worship takes on a form that most people would recognize and is fairly traditional. At other times we try to encourage folks to envision all that they do as a form of worship, from raking leaves, to kayaking, or hiking, worshiping God can be integrated into all that we do. In that respect, God’s sanctuary surrounds each and every one of us all the time. I invite you to come and explore our sanctuary.
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp