Summit church votes to become sanctuary congregation

SUMMIT, NJ — Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit has voted to become a sanctuary congregation, with an aim of serving immigrants and discouraging the use of harsh deportation measures and unjust enforcement.

The congregation approved a resolution on the issue on June 4 at its annual meeting attended by 105 voting members. The unanimous vote — with two abstentions — followed several months of town meetings and discussions.

The congregation pledges to make a concerted effort to extend sanctuary beyond its walls by visiting detainees, sponsoring an immigrant and/or a family, and supporting other communities serving as physical sanctuary sites, according to a press release. Several members of the congregation’s Refugee Response Ministry are already making regular visits to detainees in New Jersey immigration jails.

“Becoming a sanctuary congregation, including offering physical shelter, goes to the core of our faith as Unitarian Universalists,” Rev. Robin Tanner, Beacon’s minister of worship and outreach, said in the press release. “At Beacon, we believe in the worth and dignity of every person. No human being is illegal. Our chalice is taken from a symbol once utilized to guarantee safe passage to refugees. To gather each week and kindle the light of our chalice, to honor those who came before us, we are called to offer sanctuary.”

To plan next steps and to keep the congregation informed, Beacon’s board of trustees will create a Sanctuary Task Force. For further information about Beacon, call the office at 908-273-3245 or visit