UUCE’s Refugee Sanctuary Project

The Refugee Sanctuary Project is one of UUCE’s Earth Equuity projects.

The Earth Equuity program was proposed by Reverend Sydney and the Board of Trustees and adopted by the congregation in 2015 to encourage whole-congregation participation in social justice projects aimed at issues growing out of climate change and oppression.

The proposal for a Refugee Sanctuary project called for researching and educating the congregation about the rapidly worsening refugee crisis, investigating ways to provide direct aid to refugees, and combating Islamophobia and hate speech.

The Refugee Sanctuary group held its first meeting in early January 2016. Its first project was to collect warm clothing for Syrian refugees arriving Greece after crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

Group members searched for like-minded organizations in Eugene. We found a great deal of concern everywhere about the plight of the Syrian refugees. By March, other faith communities had organized their own refugee committees and the Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County began to form to receive refugees from the federal resettlement program. Our Refugee Sanctuary group was an early community member of the RRCLC, with a member on the Coalition’s steering committee, and another active in the material donations committee. When the first Syrian family arrived in Eugene, one of our members became an advocate for the family.



UUCE’s Refugee Sanctuary project is an open group, and we welcome your participation and ideas.

Meetings are announced in the weekly order of service.

Upcoming Events

Currently showing thru May 20: Common Ground  Human rights and dignity photo exhibit of Fazal Sheikh’s photographs.  For more information see: https://portlandartmuseum.org/exhibitions/common-ground/ 


Thursday, May 31: Join the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMirJ) activists in Portland at their monthly vigil at the ICE headquarters in support of detained immigrants. Detainees are housed at a NORCOR facility in The Dalles, just east of Portland. The use of this facility violates Oregon’s sanctuary law.

Vigil held the last Thursday of every month at 10 am: 4310 SW Macadam Ave, Portland


June 2018: We Are Neighbors photo exhibit at UUCE.  This month-long exhibit consists of 23 photographs of immigrants who live in Lane County. The exhibit includes photographs from the original  We Are Neighbors collection, which first premiered in 1996. This expanding collection celebrates the contributions and inspirational life stories of immigrants as integral members of our local community and our neighbors. Participants in the exhibit emigrated from countries including Chile, Palestine, Ireland, Germany, Mexico, Japan, and India. Local photographers include Paul Dix, Melissa Nolledo, Herb Everett, and Irwin Noparstak.


Friday, June 8: We Are Neighbors Photographer’s Reception
UUCE Chapel adjacent to the UUCE hallway gallery,  5:30 – 7:30 pm

Live music, refreshments, and gallery talks by artists and their subjects are part of this reception celebrating the photography exhibit “We are Neighbor” on display in the UUCE gallery during the month of June.  Featuring portraits of immigrants living in our community, the exhibit was first presented in 1996 by the Community Alliance of Lane County. Carter McKenzie, curator of the exhibit’s current incarnation, conducted interviews with the immigrants that became the text for the exhibition. “This was a powerful, humbling process — without the tremendous generosity and courage of those individuals who agreed to share their stories during these very difficult times, the collection would not exist,” she said.

The photographic portraits of this exhibition are the work of local photographers: Mimi Nolledo, Paul Dix, Herb Everett, and Irwin Noparstak, who are passionate advocates for immigrant rights and who formed close connections with their eight subjects.

Read their stories:

Arun Toké and Bidyut Das
Beatriz Robles Kieser
Cardenas-Riumallo Family
Erika Waechter
Rosie Hernandez
Thelma Barone
Tom Barry
Tomo Tsurumi

Curator Carter McKenzie will describe the process of restoration and expansion of this version of the collection, and the photographers will make brief remarks about their work. In addition, the eight subjects of the photo portraits have also been invited to attend. Appetizers will be provided, and instrumental music will be performed by Janet Naylor on the qanun, a stringed zither of Middle Eastern origins.  Reception hosted by the UU Refugee Sanctuary Project.

ACTION Resources

Join the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMirJ) movement in Portland at their monthly vigil at the ICE headquarters in support of detained immigrants. Detainees are housed at a NORCOR facility in The Dalles, just east of Portland. The use of this facility violates Oregon’s sanctuary law.

Vigil held the last Thursday of every month at 10 am: 4310 SW Macadam Ave, Portland


PETITIONNot Fair: Kids Alone in Court!


Stay on top of displacement news around the world with The Refugee Brief.


Advocate NOW! Resources from Refugee Council USA


The Campsfield Monitor, the Campaign to close Campsfield and End All Immigration Detention (UK)

Letters in Support of Refugees

 UUCE Projects

School Supply Kit Creates New Connections (Fall 2017)

 Book Resources

Nujeen: One Girl’s Incredible Journey from War-Torn Syria by Nujeen Mustafa, Christina Lamb
Nujeen Mustafa, a teenager born with cerebral palsy, whose harrowing journey from war-ravaged Syria to Germany in a wheelchair is a breathtaking tale of fortitude, grit, and hope that lends a face to the greatest humanitarian issue of our time, the Syrian refugee crisis.  For millions around the globe, sixteen-year-old Nujeen Mustafa embodies the best of the human spirit. Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the brutal fight between ISIS militants and US-backed Kurdish troops in 2014, she and her family were forced to flee.  (Excerpt from Goodreads.com)

Go, Went, Gone
by Jenny Erpenbeck
One of the great contemporary European writers takes on Europe’s biggest issue.  Richard has spent his life as a university professor, immersed in the world of books and ideas, but now he is retired, his books remain in their packing boxes and he steps into the streets of his city, Berlin. Here, on Alexanderplatz, he discovers a new community — a tent city, established by African asylum seekers. Hesitantly, getting to know the new arrivals, Richard finds his life changing, as he begins to question his own sense of belonging in a city that once divided its citizens into them and us.  At once a passionate contribution to the debate on race, privilege and nationality and a beautifully written examination of an ageing man’s quest to find meaning in his life, Go, Went, Gone showcases one of the great contemporary European writers at the height of her powers.  (Goodreads.com)

Video Resources

Refugee’s Stories

Hunted, Haunted, Stateless, and Scared: the Stories of Refugee Scientists

Chasing Away the Shadows

Our Terrifying Swim: Two Syrians’ Journey through Dark Water to Greece

Born under ISIS, the Children Struggling in Iraq (securing required documentation)

Stranded by the Travel Ban: a Syrian’ Family’s American Dream Crushed

Meet some of the Young Syrian Lives the IRC and Sesame Street will Change

A Friendship Born in Dance


UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency

Detained Voices (UK)

Freed Voices (UK)

Freedom from Torture (UK)

Informed Immigrant


Connie Newman (541) 543-1685