Monday, August 28, 2017

On sanctuary and signs

This is what I wrote a few days ago: I called it taking a risk. I said, I am ready…more than ready…to become one of the people at my Unitarian Church enthusiastically supporting a move to become the first sanctuary church in Fort Collins. The congregation will vote on whether or not to take this step—to make this commitment to providing a safe environment for a woman facing deportation in less than three weeks.

If the congregation gives their go-ahead—which requires approval by 75 percent of a quorum, a woman from a town more than an hour away will move into the church and live there until her fate is decided by the court.

There’s way more than what meets the eye in undertaking this effort. The church will need to get additional insurance, convert a storage space into a bedroom, make sure there is someone at the church with her at all times and make sure she is well-fed and her needs are attended to.

It takes a crew of volunteers and a reasonably long-term commitment to make all this work. There are questions about risk to the church, its ministers and the rest of the staff and to church members.

I was surprised to learn that the church is committed to being open and very public about what they are doing. They want the woman’s name and story told. They will not be concealing her, rather they will be providing her with a safe place to shelter until her fate is decided by the court.

Should an ICE officer come to the church with a warrant, we will ask them to wait while a lawyer determines the legality of the warrant. If it is legal, the person taking sanctuary will have to leave.

I find myself so enraged by the current atmosphere in this country in regard to immigration that I am anxious to do my small part to resist what is happening.

The goal of the church is to keep families together. This woman has the support of her family. Her older children apparently have jobs and are keeping the family afloat. More details about her story will no doubt emerge if she comes to stay.

In the end, no one knows for certain what the future will bring. Nevertheless, there are many church members willing and able to say “yes” to this commitment physically, financially, and emotionally, just because if feels like the right thing to do.

PS- On Sunday, August 27 the church voted by 92% to become a sanctuary church.


I found these two signs at an area near the CSU campus. Kinda fun!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Running for Morgan

Some weekends fly by with nothing special to remember them by. Not this past weekend for the 500 or so runners who made their way 198 miles from Fort Collins through the Colorado mountains starting early last Friday morning, August 4, and finishing on Saturday between 8 a.m. and late afternoon in Gondola Square in Steamboat Springs.

I hooked up with a team of 12 with the unlikely name of HumpalOtt for Morgan. Each of us ran three legs of the journey which went through Livermore, Red Feather Lakes, over Deadman Pass into Woods Landing, Wyoming and Walden, Colorado before ascending Rabbit Ears Pass and descending into Steamboat Springs. The 61 teams who participated were all there to have a good time. For many of the runners, the Wild West Relay, subtitled “Get Your Ass Over the Pass,” the event has become a sacred tradition. Every year they confront the logistical challenges—finding a couple of vans—planning food and lodging—and training enough so that they can approach their appointed legs of the run with a reasonable hope of contributing to the success of the team. It’s an adventure run more than it is a race, making fun and camaraderie way more important than competing with each other.

John Humpal and Brad Ott were the original organizers of our team several years ago, and both of them were quite pleased with the creativity of the team’s name. This year our team wanted to remember one of us who died tragically and too soon in January—thus the addition of her name making our team HumpalOtt for Morgan. We carried photos of her, had special shirts made with a shot of her running on them and we told Morgan story after Morgan story as we made our way through the hills. “She’s still with us, making sure we have a good time,” someone said.

And she was. The event became a positive for our team. It took some of the sting out of losing her. It simply made us feel better. And when all 12 of us gathered at the finish line wearing our Morgan shirts to complete the last steps together, it was a high point.

We hung around for dinner together on Saturday night and for breakfast the following morning before heading our separate ways, each taking home a whole new set of memories.