1140 Cowper St Palo Alto CA 94301 Sundays at 8:30am and 10:30am

South Bay Sanctuary Covenant



“If we really want an effective end to violence, we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence:  structural violence, social injustice, exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, and repression….  We have to repeat continuously, although it is a voice crying in the desert, no to violence, yes to peace.”

– Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador



What is South Bay Sanctuary Covenant?

South Bay Sanctuary Covenant (SBSC) is an interfaith, non-partisan organization of churches and individuals in the Bay Area from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. The group is concerned with peace, justice and liberation for the people of Central America and for the refugees who have fled from these areas. 

SBSC began in 1983 by assisting Central American refugees who had fled to the U.S. to protect their lives. Later they expanded their concern to include crucial problems facing people in Central America, especially El Salvador, that were forcing them to flee to the U.S. They have advocated for better local and national policies to improve conditions for refugees here and in Central America. 

SBSC has a partner community in El Salvador called Comunidad Octavio Ortiz (COO) in the southeastern region of the country. Historically, this is one of the poorest and most neglected regions, and one of the areas hardest hit by El Salvador’s civil war, which ended in 1992 after claiming 75,000 lives.  

SBSC raises funds throughout the year to support sustainable projects that empower the people in COO and in other communities in the region. They, in turn, give us the gift of appreciation and keep us in their thoughts and prayers. SBSC also sponsors a delegation to COO each year where participants get a first-hand experience of life in El Salvador and review projects supported by SBSC.

Recent Projects Supported by SBSC
*  Partial support for the ongoing work of Voices on the Border
*  Micro-loans for the Women’s
Committee of COO so more women in the community can buy and raise calves for profit
*  Woodworking workshop tools & supplies
*  Emergency road repair after floods
*  Equipment for the emergency response 
team of the United Communities
* Aid for recovery of our partner community and surrounding communities when they are affected by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes 

SBSC Concerns
*  Promoting self-sufficiency and
empowerment of our partner community
*  Opposing legislation which would further marginalize immigrants
*  Working to halt human rights abuses in Central America and against refugees in the U.S.
*  Closure of the U.S. Army School of the Americas which teaches combat operations and torture to Latin American military   

SBSC  Services
*  Fundraising to provide material aid to
our partner community and other projects in El Salvador
*  Annual delegation to El Salvador (
see photos from a recent delegation)
*  Refugee services – support, protection, advocacy
* Job Hot Line: (650) 494-8340
*  Support for peace with justice to alleviate causes that force refugees to flee
*  Community education and action for peace and justice 

How you can help
*  Go on a delegation to El Salvador.
*  Make a tax-deductible donation.
*  Assist with an SBSC-sponsored event.
*  Hire a Central American worker through the SBSC Job Hotline: (650) 494-8340. Services include gardening, cleaning, professional painting, moving, childcare, carpentry, and more.
* Join the SBSC Steering Committee.
*  Write your legislators on issues of importance to Central Americans.


The children who live in Comunidad Octavio Ortiz, our partner community in El Salvador, are the community’s hope for the future. Please help if you can.

South Bay Sanctuary Covenant
3290 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 494-8340 

Tax-deductible gifts may be made to:
U. Lutheran Church/SBSC
and mailed to:
SBSC, 3290 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94306

SBSC is still supported by four of the original Sanctuary churches which in 1983 publicly announced their protection of Central American refugees who fled here because their lives were in grave danger in their homelands:  First Presbyterian Church, Friends Meeting, St. Thomas Aquinas (formerly St. Anne’s Chapel), and University Lutheran Church – all in Palo Alto.  Other supporting churches include: Covenant Presbyterian, First Baptist, First Congregational, First Lutheran, St. Mark’s Episcopal,  the Unitarian Universalist Church  — all in Palo Alto — and the Immanuel Lutheran Church of Los Altos.

Services and activities of SBSC are managed by a Steering Committee. We also partner with Voices on the Border, a small and effective non-governmental organization, which advises us on projects and is our liaison with our partner community in El Salvador.