Springfield City Council fights to keep South Congregational Church providing sanctuary

Hampden County

A church providing sanctuary for a woman facing deportation has put the Springfield City Council at odds with the Mayor.

Springfield City Councilors have proposed an order that would prevent city employees from interfering with South Congregational Church providing sanctuary.

The South Congregational Church in Springfield on Monday provided sanctuary for an undocumented immigrant named Gisella. However, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno expressed outrage, and took action against the church.

Mayor Sarno taking action against church housing mother facing deportation

Mayor Sarno released a statement saying in part:

“My administration has a responsibility not to jeopardize potentially millions of dollars of federal funding our city utilizes to continue to enhance all our citizens and business community, by becoming a sanctuary city.”

“I don’t see how a woman Gisella being offered sanctuary by a church risks millions of dollars,” Springfield City Councilor, Adam Gomez said.

City councilors have proposed an order to prohibit the city from interfering with South Congregational Church providing sanctuary to Gisella or any other individual.

“Why should we make it difficult for people that have been here for years,” Gomez said. “People that have been a part of this community that their kids are going to be the ones at risk.

For now, the church said it will continue to provide sanctuary to Gisella, even though it’s facing backlash from the city.

“They feel the pressure and that’s an unnerving experience for just about anyone,” South Congregational Pastor, Tom Gerstenlauer said. “However, the challenge for us is to keep the faith.”

Gisella and her children continue to live in an apartment on the top floor of the church.

The City Council has scheduled a special meeting Tuesday in hopes of putting the proposal through.

Springfield church opening doors to mother facing deportation

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