Immigration Justice

First Unitarian Church has been deeply involved in immigration and sanctuary issues in Central Iowa. We’ve been called to this work by our personal values, by our shared congregational values, and by our denomination’s Seven Principles.

Our congregation voted in 2017 to declare our building a sanctuary church for people facing the threat of immediate deportation. While the need for sanctuary space has decreased in the Des Moines area and we haven’t been asked to take someone in, the need for asylum seeker support has increased. Rising to the challenge, individual members of our church have served as sponsors for asylum seekers from Latin America hoping to make a new home in Des Moines. Michael and Karen Lauer were the first in our congregation to officially sponsor two asylum-seekers. Karen has documented their experience on our page Journey of Accompaniment. Subsequently, a group of congregation members has collectively become sponsors of a third asylum-seeker.

Our congregation is also a founding member of the Des Moines Cluster of the Iowa Sanctuary Movement, formed under the umbrella of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).  See also:  Iowa Sanctuary Movement. We’re one of several area churches that have agreed to provide financial and other forms of assistance to immigrants in Central Iowa who are facing hardships because of immigration policies.

If you’d like to join our efforts, contact our Immigration Team Leader, Morgan Dredge, at

Financial support is always needed. Please do so here: and select “ISM Asylum Support” in the drop-down.