What an honor, for us and for you too. Michael Ramos and The Church Council of Greater Seattle received the 2017 Advocating Faith Leader & Faith Community Award at Faith Action Network’s (FAN) annual dinner on November 19, 2017. Hundreds gathered in a powerful interfaith gathering to celebrate and inspire faith activists. Dr. Cornel West’s words “Justice is what love looks like in public” set the theme for the evening.

The award recognizes Ramos and the Church Council for their leadership in organizing a network of faith communities for immigrant rights, sanctuary, and rapid response.

FAN described their reasons for the award: We are delighted to honor our colleague Michael Ramos, The Church Council of Greater Seattle, and faith communities who have been tireless this year in organizing for immigrant rights, sanctuary, and rapid response. This wonderful collaboration of communities has gone above and beyond in responding to unprecedented threats to individuals and families this year. Michael, along with the Church Council staff and board, have done fabulous work to reinvigorate among faith communities a new sanctuary response “for such a time as this.”

A member of a Church Council sanctuary church, fresh from a weekend of training, said, This is more work than I expected. . . and it’s also more rewarding. It’s wonderful to be recognized along with so many other important faith voices.

Read the acceptance speech by Michael Ramos below.

On behalf of our board leaders the Rev. Jim Patten and the Rev. Dr. Linda Smith, we, and I, are humbled by this award and so deeply grateful that the Church Council of Greater Seattle and the faith communities connected through the For Such a Time as This network are honored in this way.

Responding to the signs of our times is, each in our own way, the work of all of us. The faith community is challenged to stand up, to resist and to offer a new narrative of love and hope in the face of oppressive policies and violence. Coming together, united across religious lines, is vocational work. Light upon light, alleviating suffering, removing fear, humanizing situations of injustice, building relationships with those whose rights are being diminished, together a bonfire is being lit!

Sanctuary is one flourishing of that fire. Saint Mark’s and Kadima/Madrona Grace/Liberation UCC, San Mateo and University Christian, Congregation Beth Shalom and Gethsemane Lutheran and University Congregational, you have stepped forward in creative and prophetic ways. And nearly 100 other congregations are tied together to open to doors of our hearts and our sacred spaces. To tell the immigrant, the stranger, the one who appears to be an “other”, nuestra casa es su casa, our home is your home.

We all have the capacity to be moved and we each have the audacity to act. Can we pass a clean Dream Act? Can we close down the private, profit-making, detention systems? Can we tear down the walls of a travel ban, a refugee ban, a Muslim ban? Then, let’s get moving! This recognition speaks to the real news that we need each other, we belong together, that a love without exclusions put into practice in small ways and big ways is what will ultimately prevail.

My feeling at this time is summed up in the Rory Cooney song “Our heart shall sing of the day you bring, let the fires of your justice burn, wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn.” Thank you, FAN, and all of you, for your recognition, your friendship and colleagueship over all these years.

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