From The Living Church-
Long aligned with progressive causes, Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon, did not hesitate when Pastor Mark Knutson announced 20 years ago that the church would be a “sanctuary congregation” where undocumented immigrants could avoid federal agents with warrants to deport them.
But that did not mean Augustana’s congregants were fully prepared when their commitment was suddenly tested in 2014.
With federal agents in pursuit of El Salvadoran national Francisco Aguirre, Augustana’s chancel was transformed overnight into a sleeping space. A husband, father, and local labor organizer, Aguirre also faced charges for drunken driving and illegal reentry after a prior deportation. How long he would be a 24/7 resident of the church was anybody’s guess.
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