April 8, 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Grace to you and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord!
115th Annual Council
of the Diocese in McAllen this February, we heard four perspectives on the current immigration and border issues roiling our country. These perspectives were not pro and con debates, “us” versus “them” politicking, or efforts to persuade anyone of the right way to think and act. They were intended to provide information and shed the light of Christ, not stoke the fires of discord, on a very complicated reality. The responses of those gathered at Council were overwhelmingly positive. I am so thankful for those who feel drawn to serve in the Name of Jesus in this hard situation which seems to change daily.
Across the whole diocese, people and churches continue to be deeply engaged in mission work through the Department of World Mission. We are one of a few dioceses with ongoing and committed mission partnerships in the countries of origin for most immigrants arriving at our southern border. In the Name of Christ, the Diocese of West Texas has sent mission teams for decades into the areas from which many are fleeing, working in partnerships with local people to improve the health, education, and living conditions of vulnerable populations.
However we identify politically, as Christians there are always Christ-like responses available to us. Whether it's advocacy and prayer, giving a blanket to an asylum seeker getting on a bus, handing a taco to a border patrol agent, or heading south on a mission trip, there are gifts of healing, grace, and peace that you and your church can offer. Indeed, the Holy Spirit empowers us to offer such gifts.
If "walking in love" for you means supporting ministries related to immigration, I urge you to consider coordinating with the Diocese of West Texas Department of World Mission, as our staff and volunteers continue to prayerfully develop local partnerships to serve our brothers and sisters caught in immigration issues who are fleeing violence and social disintegration in their own country, and those charged with enforcing the laws.
Primarily, the Department of World Mission is supporting three current migration initiatives listed below, developing strategies to address immediate human needs and suffering, and supporting long-term sustainable development in regions where unrest and instability cause people to flee. Additionally, the diocesan staff is actively planning opportunities for clergy, and members of our diocese and beyond to visit and to learn more.
The Department of World Mission’s three primary migration initiatives are:
A) Relief for Asylum Seekers:
Led by Andrea Rudnik, member of Advent, Brownsville and seminarian in the IONA Collaborative, Compassionate Relief is an ecumenical ministry in Brownsville with two components: a ministry that provides assistance to asylum seekers on the Mexican side of the Matamoros International Bridge and a ministry that receives asylum seekers who have been processed and released at the Brownsville bus station, helping to equip and prepare them for their continued journey. Andrea and the Department of World Mission are exploring opportunities for additional volunteer efforts. Funding and in-kind donations for the many needs of individuals are welcome. View the list of
requested items here
B) Support for Law Enforcement Officials:
Led by the Rev. Rod Clark, Vicar at St. Peter and St. Paul, Mission, Texas, this initiative takes a holistic approach, responding to low morale among law enforcement officials and their families, including FBI agents, Border Patrol agents, police officers, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Rod and the St. Peter and St. Paul congregation regularly host events demonstrating spiritual support and encouragement for these officers. The Department of World Mission continues to seek additional ways to support and fund activities that provide respite for our fellow citizens tasked with stressful and dangerous work.
C) Partner with the Diocese of Honduras:
The Diocese of West Texas has been
invited by Bishop Lloyd Allen of Honduras to partner in developing a safe house for migrants who have been returned to Guatemala-Honduran border by the Mexican government. Currently, the safe house plans focus on meeting humanitarian needs, including rest, showers, an overnight stay, clean clothes, and food. Bishop Allen and our diocese hope to include training programs to equip migrants with the skills to generate a sustainable income. For more than thirty years, the diocese has sent specialized teams to Honduras, partnering with local parishes to encourage economic and sustainable community development.
I urge you to consider joining the Department of World Mission in their initiatives by praying, by giving, and by going:
- Pray for our teams working in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico as they continue to focus on villages where they work. Also, pray for these team members and consider becoming a part of the ministry being done with our neighbors to the south. Pray for safety, strength, and resources.
- Give financially to support the work of the World Mission Department or give in-kind donations. Online donations can be made at dwtx.org/world-mission. Checks made out to “Department of World Mission” with “Immigration Initiatives” written on the memo line, and may be mailed to the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, P.O. Box 6885, San Antonio, TX 78209.
- Go by serving on a mission team or inviting a World Mission presenter to your congregation. Contact Marthe Curry, Director of World Mission, at firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.