Sanctuary Denomination

Sanctuary Denominations

In its simplest form, becoming a sanctuary denomination means that the ELCA is publicly declaring that walking alongside immigrants and refugees is a matter of faith.

In baptism, we are brought into a covenantal relationship with Jesus Christ that commits us to strive for justice and peace in all the earth. Following the example of Martin Luther, we believe that advocacy is a crucial expression of baptismal identity. As a church, we have advocated for stopping the detention of children and families for decades. We have spoken out against family separation, sought a pathway to citizenship for community members who have lived in the U.S. for many years, and have taken steps to address the root causes of migration in a way that honors the humanity in people who must flee.

Through the ELCA’s AMMPARO strategy, we continue this work. Talking points, articles, videos and resources are housed here so this church can have conversations about what sanctuary means with many of our members in their context to discern future action and direction. Becoming a sanctuary denomination was voted on and passed by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee.

Being a sanctuary denomination means that we, as church together, want to be public and vocal about this work. It will look different for everyone, but welcoming people is not a political issue for us – it is a matter of faith.


ELCA sanctuary memorial online survey

At the August 2019 Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA became a sanctuary church body. If you have had the opportunity to read the text of the memorial, you will see that it contains important information about what is meant by “sanctuary.” The memorial directed the ELCA Church Council to provide guidance to all three expressions of the ELCA on sanctuary. Here is your opportunity to give your input. Results from this survey are anonymous and will be used to shape the guidance the ELCA Church Council provides in response to this action. Visit to participate.



All are welcome. Find an ELCA congregation near you.