A Message from Our Minister
On Friday, December 15th, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme decided to provide sanctuary to Mariano Cardoso, Sr. Mariano’s was a short stay, and for that we give thanks. Shortly after being admitted into sanctuary, the courts issued a stay of deportation, allowing him to be with his family. But I’d like to share why we made that decision.
We did it as an open act, in conformity with our faith and beliefs.
The Bible teaches us in the book of Leviticus, Chapter 19, that when a foreigner, or stranger, resides among us, we shall not oppress him, but treat him as well as we would treat our own family, for we were all, at one time, strangers in a foreign land.
Likewise, the Gospel in Matthew, Chapter 25, tells us that we encounter Christ when we welcome the stranger; and that Christ considers the way we treat the disenfranchised as the way we treat him.
Our offering of sanctuary is consistent with who we have been and will continue to be as a church.
As our website states: “We’re more than a building. We’re a community – a community of people of faith who care about the world we live in, whether it’s right outside our door or half a world away. A community that is constantly striving to live up to Christ’s teaching, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’”
On the “Who We Are” page on this website, you can see a photo of a sign we posted last year outside of our church listing the groups of vulnerable individuals whom our congregation loves and supports – immigrants and refugees are among them.
That sign read: “Taught by our faith, we stand firm.” We stand firm in the belief that Mariano Cardoso is our brother and our neighbor. We stand firm in our decision to provide sanctuary, and we celebrate with Mariano now that he has been given relief by the courts.
Mariano’s is but one case. There are hundreds of others. We call on all people of faith, we call on all houses of worship, we call on all people of conscience, to stand up for those who are most vulnerable in this moment. We call on everyone, people of faith and no faith, to do what we can to create places of refuge and sanctuary, that we may remember our common humanity and decency in this most indecent moment in our nation’s history.
In this Christmas season, when we hear one more time about how once “there was no room at the inn,” we in Old Lyme are doing our best to insure that this Christmas, there is room at the inn. May that be true of our church, our community, our state, and ultimately, our nation.
In faith and hope,
Rev. Dr. Steven R. Jungkeit, Senior Minister
You can read press stories describing Mariano’s unique situation here:
You can read sermons describing our belief in caring for our neighbors here: