Sanctuary Cohorts 2017

A new initiative with Oregon faith communities to build our inter-and intra-congregational capacity
to offer radical welcome and take committed and coordinated action for immigrant justice.

Washington County Cohort

IMIrJ's Washington County Cohort began in July 2017 and brings together teams from a dozen congregations for monthly gatherings and coordinated action for immigrant justice. (Registration now closed.)

Marion County Cohort

IMIrJ is excited to announce a new Sanctuary Cohort for faith communities in Marion County! This cohort will run from September 2017 - February 2018. See below for registration details.

Portland Metro Cohort / Connect! Gatherings

Volunteer teams from 27 metro-area congregations participated in IMIrJ's Portland Sanctuary Cohort, which ran from February - July 2017. Currently, volunteer teams from the PDX Cohort and new congregations (!) are invited to join us for our cohort follow-up, Congregational Teams Connect!, a series of three gatherings this fall to continue building cross-congregational relationships and capacity.

Marion County Sanctuary Cohort Registration

Registration deadline is Wednesday, September 20th.

To register please choose one person from your congregation or community's Core Sanctuary Team
to fill out the Cohort Registration Form and make a contribution to support the costs of the program, using the buttons below.

Questions before registering? Scroll down for the Cohort Initiative overview and FAQ.

Also available for download:
Cohort Overview Slideshow

Why this? Why now?

If ever there were a time to heed the ancient call towards the prophetic action of sanctuary, that time is now. Anti-immigrant, racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic violence and rhetoric were reaching a fever pitch even before election night. Now, as executive orders are handed down and campaign promises become reality, we stand up to the calls to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, “build the wall”, reinstate a Muslim registry, and further criminalize the global movement of people. 

And, in the face of these threats, we know we need each other. Oregon’s immigrant and refugee communities need our faith communities to move beyond our fears - to step up and to show up in new and more profound ways. But we can’t act alone and in isolation. We need community, connection, spirit, heart, imagination. We need the collective power that comes from translating our faith into strategic action in service of social justice.

IMIrJ’s new Sanctuary Cohorts initiative convenes volunteer leadership teams from Oregon faith communities to build our inter-and intra-congregational capacity to offer radical welcome and take committed and coordinated action for immigrant justice. Together, we will go deep: exploring what it means to build, be and offer sanctuary, and supporting one another as we take the steps to make it happen. Ultimately, this initiative will create leadership in our congregations to advance the creation of spaces of sanctuary, both within and beyond our faith communities - spaces where immigrants and all people are able to live in safety and freedom.

Here’s what IMIrJ will provide:

  • Monthly cohort gatherings that provide a space to:
    • develop our cohort community
    • share experiences and learn from peers
    • offer accountability
    • combine theological reflection with concrete action in support of immigrant justice
    • equip your congregation’s team with the specific skills you need to engage your congregations in the work of sanctuary.
  • Trainings and leadership development in engaging new leaders in your congregation, responding to resistance and fear, mapping our sacred power, etc.
  • Ongoing support and accompaniment from IMIrJ leaders for your team between cohort gatherings.
  • Development and distribution of sanctuary tools and materials to advance faith-based organizing and leadership.

Here are the commitments we ask of your congregation/community:

  • Form a core leadership team of 3 to 7 people from your congregation who, collectively, bring curiosity, a passion for justice, creativity, excellent listening skills, good follow-through, a willingness to go deep in conversation and to build relationships.
  • Team members commit to:
    • Attending monthly IMIrJ cohort gatherings: Portland Metro: third Mondays, February - July, from 6:30-8:30pm in Portland; or Washington County: second Mondays, July - December, from 6:30 - 8:30pm in Hillsboro; or Marion County: fourth Mondays, September - February, from 6:30 - 8:30pm in Salem (with alternate date TBA for December).
    • 5 hours/month of connecting with other individuals or groups in your congregation to support their engagement in the work of immigrant justice.

We welcome all congregational teams that wish to participate and encourage teams to make a meaningful financial contribution towards covering the costs of the program. A suggested contribution is $100 per member of your congregational core team (or $300 - $700 per team).  No team will be turned away for lack of funds. 

Some FAQ: 

Q. Does our congregation need to have "declared Sanctuary" or be willing and prepared to offer physical sanctuary to undocumented immigrants in order to participate in the cohort? 

A. No. While we encourage all congregations to declare Sanctuary as a powerful act of solidarity and commitment, there are also many other ways to be involved in the broader work of immigrant justice. As we will explore in the Cohort, the concept and work of "sanctuary" can be understood quite broadly - and at the heart of this Cohort initiative is the ongoing work of building relationships and deepening our faith and active commitment to "standing with" all whose safety is at risk.

Q. Does every member of our Core Team need to be able to attend every monthly Cohort gathering?

A. We strongly encourage all Core Team members to attend all six of the monthly Cohort gatherings. We also understand that sometimes things come up. As a general guideline, if you know up front that one of your potential Core Team members will miss more than one or two of the monthly gatherings, consider finding someone else for that spot on your team. 

Q. Portland and Washington County and Salem are too far away for us. Will IMIrJ be offering the Cohort in other parts of the state?

A. IMIrJ is currently assessing the need for and our capacity to actively accompany and support faith communities engaging in immigrant justice and sanctuary work in other regions of the state. If you are interested, please contact us at sarah [at] so we can explore the options together!

Other questions?

Contact Sanctuary Cohort Organizer, Sarah K. Loose, at sarah [at]!