Earlier this week, the Bishop of the Diocese of West Texas, David M. Reed, released a letter detailing several immigration initiatives that are ongoing in the diocese. The Diocese of West Texas is the southernmost diocese in the state and includes the cities of San Antonio, Brownsville, and Corpus Christi. The diocese borders Mexico to the west and the Gulf of Mexico to the east and, due to its location, is the site of much the immigration across the southern border of the United States.
In his letter, Bishop Reed described how immigration has been the focus of mission work as well as a topic of ongoing conversations in the diocese in recent months, including at their Annual Council this winter. He described some of the diocese’s work surrounding immigration, writing:
“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.”
As debates on immigration continue to rage across the national scene, the Diocese of West Texas Department of World Missions is working on three initiatives, each described in Bishop’s Reed letter:
- Relief for asylum seekers on both sides of the border. Part of this work is helping prepare asylum-seekers who have been processed and released in Brownsville; a list of needed items, including clothes and diapers, is available on the diocesan website.
- Ongoing support for law enforcement officers and their families. This initiative seeks to give ongoing spiritual support as well as provide opportunities for respite to officers who work in stressful and dangerous jobs, and is a ministry to police officers, Border Patrol agents, FBI agents, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
- Partnership with the Diocese of Honduras. The Diocese of West Texas is working with the Diocese of Honduras to help meet humanitarian needs for migrants who have been returned to the Guatemala-Honduran border by the Mexican government; this partnership is also an outgrowth of several decades of partnerships between the two dioceses.
Bishop Reed’s letter also noted that, as these initiatives develop, there will be opportunities for clergy and members of the wider church to come to south Texas to learn about immigration. Yet, even those who are not physically present at the border can still actively join in this work. Reed added,
“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.”
Bishop Reed’s full letter to the Diocese of West Texas can be found here.