Do We Need to Prepare for a 21st-Century Underground Railroad? by The Rev. Kaji Douša
I don’t mean to be alarmist, but a number of us are starting to wonder whether or not there needs to become a new 21st-century Underground Railroad. Why is this? Part of it is that a number of us come from traditions in churches that are very proud of having stood on the side of freedom. As we believe that every human being is born with dignity and with equal access to the ability to thrive. We ask that we pay attention to ways that we can make that happen.
And so, a number of our churches are so proud that we were part of the Underground Railroad back in the 19th century, and perhaps before, but I wonder, if there was an opportunity for an Underground Railroad now, would we step up? Why? Because it is a basic human and Christian virtue that we protect the stranger, and that, as Hebrews 13 says, “We never neglect to show hospitality to strangers, because in so doing, some have entertained angels unawares.”
And so, there’s a call to congregations to consider becoming sanctuary spaces, and that could mean different things for different places. So, again, this isn’t about being alarmist. What it is is about being ready. We don’t want to be unprepared and we have no idea what is to come. And maybe it will be that we will continue to be the safe space for people who need our hospitality – but it may be that we’re not. And this is the time then, not to be alarmed, but to get ready. That’s what’s facing Christian churches today.