The Very Reverend Todd Donatelli

Letter of Declaration, Sanctuary, and Lent

Posted By Todd Donatelli on March 16, 2017

Dear All Souls Family,

First, let me offer my appreciation for those of you who were able to communicate with me either through email or by phone since my last blog regarding the recent Declaration of Solidarity with Immigrants. I do not take for granted the trust exercised in that.

Second, I wish to let you know I have chosen not to sign the Declaration letter. My not signing the letter is not about thinking the community of All Souls is unsympathetic to or dispassionate about caring for immigrants in our country. Your comments to me, regardless of your opinion on my signing, make clear you are. My decision is based upon wanting the leadership of this community to make a thoughtful and informed determination about how and in what ways we will be engaged.

As I mentioned in my last blog this decision would not simply be based upon my personal convictions; it is based upon at least two connected things: when I speak in Asheville about faith matters I do so on behalf of 800 plus persons who chose this as their faith community; in his recent letter to the diocese about sanctuary and churches considering this course and its possible legal consequences, our bishop asks the parish leadership to act in a manner that is ‘thoughtful and informed’.

I respect the chosen timeline by the organizers of the Declaration and the recent experience driving that timeline. I also believe we as a community and your Vestry as the parish leadership need time to consider an action that has potential legal implications. The next step in this process will be a discussion at our Vestry meeting this coming Monday. 
Having said this I am also conscious that we have the privilege of time which is something that undocumented mothers and fathers of children in this country do not have. We have the privilege of considering this as people who already have gotten in to America whether our families got here in the 1700’s, 1800’s, 1900’s or 2000’s.  At the heart of all of this is consideration for people who yearn and hope for the very things for which we yearn and hope. At the heart of this are people who wish for their children what those of us with children wish for ours. At the heart of this is Jesus’ call to be a neighbor and how it is we live out being the Body of Christ in our world and in our time.

At this past Sunday’s forum and in other venues many of you voiced a desire to engage in ways to support people who are facing new immigration practices.  Attached are documents we discussed this past Sunday that provide information on various ways to engage. As well, I am attaching our bishop’s recent letters about immigration and about legal issues related.

I am conscious this past Sunday’s gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent was the story of Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, being told by Jesus he must be born again. Nicodemus hears Jesus clearly and asks if he is somehow supposed to get back into his mother’s womb and start over. Jesus does not dissuade him in the least. This is indeed the experience of living in relationship with God. This is what Lent invites us to do.

Blessed Lent,
The Very Reverend Todd M. Donatelli, Dean of the Cathedral

Working Groups of Sanctuary in WNC (Word Document)

Legal Support for Immigrants in WNC (Word Document)

Pastoral Letter from the Bishop (webpage)

Bishop’s Letter regarding Sanctuary (webpage)