Room 99 Project Update – October 2021

On May 16, 2021, the congregation renewed its commitment to immigrant justice and voted to modify Room 99, an underused classroom, to add shower and clothes washing facilities and upgrade the current kitchenette. This is the latest on the project.

Immigrant Justice Team members Monica Dooner and Lenore Franzen met with Josh Levin of IAFR.

October was an exciting month for the Room 99 project. The big news is that we reached, then surpassed our fundraising goal! Thanks to the congregation’s generous response, we are in a strong position to complete the renovations, cover emerging unanticipated expenses related to the permitting and construction processes, furnish the apartment, and cover the daily expenses of our first guest(s).

November includes two opportunities to learn more about the experience of an asylum seeker and how we as a welcoming congregation can prepare to open our hearts to our guests. On Nov. 7, Rachel Uhtmann, director of training for the International Association for Refugees, provided grounding in what it means to be an asylum seeker, how the experience and needs of asylum seekers differ from those of other immigrants, and ways we can be in authentic, helpful relationship and community with our guests as they work toward self-sufficiency. Check here to listen to the recorded presentation. On Nov. 21, the Immigrant Justice Team will share an update on Room 99 and explain the process we’ll use for selecting guests. Please join us for these important conversations.

Other October highlights:

– We’ve connected with several organizations that serve asylum seekers, including the International Association for Refugees (IAFR), the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), and the Advocates for Human Rights (AHR). These organizations will be a primary source of referrals to us of families or individuals in need of housing.

– The Room 99 project will be highlighted in an episode of the podcast American Refugee, produced by Sam Graber. Sam, a member of Temple Israel and long-time advocate for immigrant justice, has been impressed with the Lutheran church’s role in aiding asylum seekers. He will follow our project to portray what it means for a congregation to undertake this work, start to finish. Sam has a national audience and hopes the episode will encourage others around the country to consider this work themselves. Check out his podcast.

– Only a few items remain in the Target gift registry, including coffee mugs, cleaning supplies, and storage bins. Please help us finish supplying Room 99. It’s easy to order, and your purchase ships directly to us. Go to, search first name “Gloria,” last name “Dei.” Thank you!

– A big shout out to Teresa Sterns for connecting the Room 99 planning team to an architect with the firm BWBR, who is helping us navigate the city’s permitting process. Once we have the necessary permit, renovations will begin!

– Another shout out to the Caring 4 Creation Team, which met with us early on to find ways Room 99 could repurpose materials from the Sanctuary renovation. Two Gloria Dei members will modify a pew to fit by the exterior doors that our guests will use to access the apartment. It will make a great place for removing outerwear and setting packages.