“Through the pages of this book, I invite you into various spaces of sanctuary—not as places of retreat, but for the deepened resistance, vision, and transformation that these days, and the gospel, require.”
Throughout her nearly forty years in ministry, Heidi Neumark has strived to make communities of faith into sanctuaries amid the turmoils of life. Now, with the social and political upheaval of the years since Donald Trump was elected president, Neumark believes the true Christian calling is to live out a counterpoint to today’s prevailing spirits of exclusion and hatred. Using her own bilingual, multicultural congregation as a model, she moves through the seasons of the church calendar to reflect on what it looks like to live out essential Christian convictions in community with others.
Sanctuary is an amplifier for the many voices crying out against policies and rhetoric that are cruel, dehumanizing, and dangerous. Neumark begins each chapter with a quote from Donald Trump that she defies and dismantles with the power of her own stories—anecdotes about offering shelter for queer youth in her city, supporting immigrants and asylum-seekers being harassed by ICE, and embracing her church’s diversity with a Guadalupe celebration, to name a few. Timely, but also timeless, this book speaks to the deep wounds of this era, inflicted before and during the Trump presidency, which will remain long past its end.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Lenny Duncan
Christmas 1. Putting Herod Back in Christmas 2. Jesus in a Cage on Good Morning America Epiphany 3. Bedbugs, Condoms, Frankincense, and Myrrh 4. Poor Doors 5. That None May Be Lost Ash Wednesday 6. Whiter Than Snow Lent 7. Suffer the Little Children 8. Leap before You Look 9. Measuring Up Holy Week 10. Night of Betrayal 11. Credible Fear Easter 12. Pupusas at the Tomb 13. Dance Party Pentecost 14. Better Than Dolls Trinity Sunday 15. Team Effort Ordinary Time 16. Numbers 17. Autumnal Saints Christ the King Sunday 18. Crown Him with Tear Gas Advent 19. Angelus Bells 20. La Morenita 21. Morning Sickness Postscript: Sanctuary
Heidi Neumark is a Lutheran pastor who has served congregations in the South Bronx and Manhattan for almost four decades. In her present position, she is also the cofounder and executive director of a shelter for homeless LGBTQIA+ youth. She is the author of two books, Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx and Hidden Inheritance: Family Secrets, Memory and Faith, about the discovery of her Jewish heritage and her grandfather's death in a concentration camp.
“Powerful . . . Neumark adds her voice to the growing chorus of Christians calling for faith-based resistance to the Trump agenda.” — Publishers Weekly
“Pastor Heidi Neumark’s intensely personal telling of her wildly diverse congregation’s quest to create community against the backdrop of Trump’s presidency and NYC’s gentrification is inventive, humorous, painful, and oh so inspiring. Our world needs more pastors like Heidi, more congregations like Trinity Lutheran, and more books like Sanctuary. All three offer a divided nation reasons to be hopeful and paths toward healing.” — Cynthia Nixon actor and activist
“Passionate, luminous, inspired, and practical, Neumark’s Trinity Lutheran Church on Manhattan’s West 100th Street is a place where the simplicity of play meets a righteous rage for change, where faith and morality attain true meaning. Sanctuary takes on the problems of the USA—and of humanity—while recounting, with rich stories and vivid details, how a small church can carry an inclusive vision that transcends boundaries. This is a fine example of the resistance, vision, and transformation that, in her words, ‘these days, and the gospel, require.’” — Joan Juliet Buck author of The Price of Illusion
“Heidi Neumark's books always take me to places I’ve never been. Sanctuary is no exception. It is more than a prophetic response to one president or one political party. It is a series of eloquent dispatches from the front where genuine ministry is happening, delivered by a trusted and wise messenger. This is a wonderful book.” — Richard Lischer author of Stations of the Heart
“Sanctuary is a must read. Throughout the book, Neumark weaves together stories from those bruised, battered, and abandoned in the midst of abundance and puts them in stark relief with the oppressive decrees of Donald Trump and his enablers. Neumark’s stories, from her own lived experience, embody the call of the gospel to preach good news to the poor and bring comfort to the broken amid bedbugs, detention centers, and systemic violence and injustice.” — Liz Theoharis cochair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
“Heidi Neumark’s powerful book will retain its power long after Donald Trump’s presidency. Neumark has the unique ability to bring together people and events that are seldom in the same space—consider her chapter, ‘Bed Bugs, Condoms, Frankincense, and Myrrh.’ Biblical texts and church seasons intersect with politics without apology: ‘It’s remarkable,’ she writes, ‘that people who gather to worship in spaces with a cross prominently displayed become upset about politics in the sanctuary.’ You will never say ‘sanctuary’ again without hearing her passionate plea for the church to take sides—based on the Bible—with those whose lives are demeaned and dismissed. This is a book many have been waiting for; hopefully, it will also be read by those who didn’t know they were waiting.” — Barbara K. Lundblad Union Theological Seminary, New York City
“Pastor Heidi evocatively defines sanctuary as ‘an embodied way for dreams to grow in a protected space so that a different future can be born.’ This book is a sanctuary rich with the gilded stories of beautiful people for whom the church or society have rarely offered safety, finding their way to healing in a community finding its way to Jesus in our ever-changing and brutal city. A beautiful, compelling vision.” — Winnie Varghese Trinity Church Wall Street
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