Immigration Ministries

The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas shares approximately five hundred border miles with Mexico, along the Rio Grande River from Lake Amistad in Del Rio to Boca Chica Beach on the southernmost tip of the state. Individuals and churches along the border are responding to the needs of asylum seekers, as well as individuals in local law enforcement, in a variety of outreach and pastoral care ministries. In addition, the diocese has sent mission teams for decades into the countries from which many are fleeing today, seeking to sustainably improve the health, education and living conditions of vulnerable populations. 

In his annual address to the diocese at Council 2019, the Rt. Rev. David M. Reed shared, "Wherever we might fall politically, as Christians there are always Christ-like responses available to us. Whether it’s advocacy, 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 things you and your church can offer as followers of Jesus to share his love with others. Just remember to 'walk in love,' don’t yell, listen, and be humble and kind as you go."

Immigration Ministry Opportunities

Grouped by convocations (geographical regions within the diocese). Click here to read a list of Episcopal churches within each convocation, updated in March 2018.

If your ministry is not listed, please send ministry details, including its primary focus, support needs, and a contact person from your congregation, to immigration@dwtx.org.

Want to start a backpack or lunch assembly ministry at your church? Inquiries may be sent to immigration@dwtx.org.

Valley Convocation

Team Brownsville - Humanitarian Assistance for Asylum Seekers
[Brownsville, TX] Team Brownsville crosses the Gateway International Bridge between Brownsville, TX and Matamoros, Mexico each day to serve breakfast and dinner to asylum seekers waiting to cross the bridge. It also gives supplies, like shoe laces or toys, to asylum seekers in La Plaza Bus Terminal in Brownsville. For more information, contact Andrea Rudnik.

Primary Needs:

  • Volunteers to serve in Brownsville: to prepare meals, serve meals on the bridge, or distribute shoe laces, toys, etc. in La Plaza Terminal. A current passport is mandatory to serve meals on the bridge. 

  • Financial support: checks should be made out to "Church of the Advent" with "Team Brownsville" on the memo line, then sent to Church of the Advent (104 W. Elizabeth Street; Brownsville, TX 78520-5547). An online donation form is available, via PayPal, on Team Brownsville's website

  • In-kind donations: donations of clothing, toiletries, and other supplies should be delivered to the Bishop Jones Center (111 Torcido Drive; San Antonio, TX 78209) or may be delivered to the Good Neighbor Settlement House (1254 E Tyler Street; Brownsville, TX 78520). Click here for a list of needed items, updated June 2019. 

St. Peter and St. Paul Episcopal Church - Taco Mondays
[Mission, TX] St. Peter and St. Paul prepares and serves 600 breakfast tacos each week to asylum seeking families being cared for at the Catholic Respite Center in McAllen, TX. Three times annually, they prepare and serve breakfast tacos to U.S. Border Patrol officers at their morning briefing. For more information, contact the Rev. Rod Clark, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul, at rod@peterpaul.org.

Primary Needs:

  • Volunteers to serve in Mission: to prepare breakfast tacos, meet at St. Peter and St. Paul's (2310 N Steward Road; Mission, TX 78574-8842) at 6:00 p.m. on Mondays; usually takes around two hours.

  • Financial support: checks can be made out to "St. Peter and St. Paul Episcopal Church" with "Immigration Ministries" on the memo line. Making 600 tacos costs approximately $160 per meal.

Acción de Gracia Immigration Assistance
[Weslaco and McAllen, TX] Acción de Gracia Immigration Assistance provides legal consultation to migrants who cannot afford it, or those that are not serviced through other organizations, helping people get the documentation they need. Each month, this volunteer led, non-profit organization hosts a free legal clinic at Grace Episcopal Church, Weslaco, as well as providing individual follow up consultations and other support as needed to the surrounding communities. For more information, contact attorney Kenna Giffin, at info@accionimmigration.org.

Primary Needs:

Central Convocation

St. Mark's Episcopal Church - Refugee Response
[San Antonio, TX] St. Mark's partners with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition, the City of San Antonio, and other partners (social services and faith-based groups) to help arrange travel and to provide for the immediate needs of asylum seekers as they travel through San Antonio. For more information, contact the Rev. Ann Fraser, Associate Rector for Outreach, Pastoral Care, and Parish Life at St. Mark's, at afraser@stmarks-sa.org.

Primary Needs:

  • Volunteers to serve in San Antonio: to provide compassionate support with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition, complete their online Volunteer Application
  • Volunteers to serve in San Antonio: to assist with a clothing ministry for migrants in partnership with IWC, Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. To join St. Mark's, San Antonio's IWC volunteer team, contact the Rev. Ann Fraser.

Episcopal Church of Reconciliation - Backpack & Meals Ministry
[San Antonio, TX] Reconciliation assembles traveling lunches and backpacks for distribution to asylum seekers through the Interfaith Welcome Coalition in downtown San Antonio. For more information, contact Ron Graham, at ronnbetty@gmail.com

Primary Needs:

  • Volunteers to serve in San Antonio: to make lunches, meet at Reconciliation every other Saturday at 9:45 a.m. Contact Ron for the next lunch packing date. To assemble backpacks, meet every Monday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at El Divino Salvador UMC (1701 W Woodlawn Avenue; San Antonio, TX 78201).

  • In-kind donations: backpack items or lunch supplies should be delivered to the Church of Reconciliation (8900 Starcrest Drive; San Antonio, TX 78217-4741). Click here for a list of needed items, updated June 2019.

Northern Convocation

St. Barnabas' Episcopal Church - Backpack Ministry
[Fredericksburg, TX] St. Barnabas' assembles backpacks for distribution to asylum seekers traveling through San Antonio, in partnership with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition. For more information, contact Ann Shafer at asannshafer@gmail.com or call St. Barnabas', Fredericksburg at (830) 997-5762.

Primary Needs:

  • Volunteers to serve in Fredericksburg: to assemble backpacks once a month at St. Barnabas' (601 W Creek Street; Fredericksburg, TX 78624-3117); contact Ann for the next backpack assembly date.

  • In-kind donations: backpack items should be delivered to St. Barnabas', Fredericksburg. Click here for a list of needed items, updated June 2019.

Northeastern Convocation

St. Francis by the Lake - Serving with Team Brownsville
[Canyon Lake, TX] St. Francis gathers small mission teams to serve with Team Brownsville, providing meals to asylum seekers on the Gateway International Bridge between Brownsville, TX and Matamoros, Mexico and serving at La Plaza Bus Station in Brownsville. For more information, contact Patricia Perea, at pereasearch@gmail.com.

Primary Needs:

  • Volunteers to serve in Brownsville: to prepare meals, serve meals on the bridge, or distribute shoe laces, toys, etc. in La Plaza Terminal with Team Brownsville. A current passport is mandatory to serve meals on the bridge. 

  • Financial support: to help St. Francis purchase ingredients and supplies for the meals served with Team Brownsville. Checks should be made out to "St. Francis by the Lake" with "Team Brownsville donation" on the memo line, and then sent to St. Francis by the Lake (P.O. Box 3031; Canyon Lake, TX 78133-0023). An online donation form is available, via PayPal, for direct contributions to Team Brownsville at teambrownsville.org

  • In-kind donations: donations of clothing, toiletries, and other supplies should be delivered to St. Francis (13250 FM 306; Canyon Lake, TX 78133). Click here for a list of needed items, updated June 2019. 

Western Convocation

St. Philip's Episcopal Church - Backpack Ministry
[Uvalde, TX] St. Philip's assembles backpacks for distribution to migrants, primarily infants to seventeen year old youths being released from the detention center and traveling through Uvalde. The congregation also prepares and serves weekly outreach meals for local Border Patrol officers. For more information, contact the Rev. Mike Marsh, Rector of St. Philip's, at marshmk@stphilipsuvalde.org.

Primary Needs:

  • In-kind donations: backpack items should be delivered to St. Philip's (343 N Getty Street; Uvalde, TX 78801-4690). Click here for a list of needed items, updated June 2019. For information about ingredients needed for outreach meals, contact the Rev. Mike Marsh.

Other Ministry Partners

Interfaith Welcome Coalition (IWC) 
[San Antonio, TX] IWC is an ecumenical, collaborative movement meeting the changing needs of asylum seekers, refugees and at-risk immigrants. Multiple Episcopal churches participate in its various ministries (see above). 

Primary Needs:

  • Volunteers in San Antonio: Click here to complete their online, volunteer application to serve at the San Antonio Greyhound Bus Station, San Antonio International Airport, or Migrant Overnight Shelter at Travis Park Church.

  • In-kind donations: Click here to view the Interfaith Welcome Coalition's donation wish-list.

City of San Antonio - Department of Human Services
[San Antonio, TX] The Department of Human Services (DHS) is coordinating a Migrant Resource Center with IWC, and other non-profit organizations, across from the downtown Greyhound Bus Station (400 N St Mary's Street, 78205) to support legal migrants arriving in San Antonio as they continue their journeys to sponsors across the country. Volunteers are needed to greet arriving families, translate travel information, serve food, and connect individuals to available resources. Click here for more information and to sign up for a volunteer shift.

 

Basecamp Team

A Basecamp Team has been created to facilitate communication between immigration ministries within the diocese, as well as provide resources and support. To join the Basecamp Team, or submit your ministry for inclusion in the list above, contact immigration@dwtx.org.

 

World Mission Initiatives - Pray, Give, Go!

For decades, the diocese has sent mission teams into the countries from which many are fleeing today, seeking to sustainably improve the health, education and living conditions of vulnerable populations. For information about supporting and participating in ongoing World Mission initiatives and sustainable development projects in Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, as well as other countries world-wide, visit the World Mission Department webpage.

 

Local News and Information

Texas Bishops Issue Joint Statement Decrying Inhumane Conditions at the Border, an open letter to state and federal officials from the Episcopal Bishops in the State of Texas [July 8, 2019]

The Rt. Rev. David Reed Invites Support for Diocesan Immigration Ministries, a letter from Bishop Reed on World Refugee Day [June 20, 2019]

Walk in Love Border Tour Reflection, video produced by the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas [June 19, 2019]

Episcopal Diocese of West Texas Hosts "Walk in Love" Border Tour, from the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas [May 15, 2019]

"Walk in Love" border tour starts in San Antonio, article and video coverage from KENS5 [May 15, 2019]

A Letter on Diocesan Immigration Ministries, from the Rt. Rev. David M. Reed [April 8, 2019]

"Stewards of the Mysteries and Manifold Grace of God", video recording of the Rt. Rev. David M. Reed's 2019 Council Address [February 22, 2019]

"Shining Light and Walking in Love:" Immigration Perspectives from the Rio Grande Valley, audio recording of the Rev. Rod Clark and Andrea Rudnik's presentation to Council 2019 [February 22, 2019]

 

National News

Episcopal Church response to crisis on the border, article from The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs [July 3, 2019]

Political tensions in Washington over immigration policy fuel Episcopal advocacy, outreach, article in the Episcopal News Service by David Paulsen, featuring quote from the Rt. Rev. David Reed [June 27, 2019]

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's message for World Refugee Day (June 20, 2019), [June 13, 2019]

ELCA presiding bishop, faith leaders issue statement on children in detention, statement co-signed by the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [June 6, 2019] 

 

Additional Resources from The Episcopal Church and Others

  • Response to the Border: Education and Advocacya compilation of resources and actions from The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and Episcopal Migration Ministries in response to the needs at the border and the unaccompanied children in detention; updated as more resources become available.

  • "Listen and Learn: Border Advocacy and Ministry," recording of the online seminar co-hosted by the Episcopal Public Policy Network and Episcopal Migration Ministries with guest speaker Bishop Michael Hunn of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, on July 2, 2019. Covers current US policies related to the border, first hand accounts of The Episcopal Church's response to humanitarian needs, and brief question and answer segment.

  • Migration, Refugees, & Immigration, from The Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations

  • Ten Actions You Can Take to Accompany Undocumented Immigrants, a backgrounder with suggested actions to support undocumented immigrants in your community. Included are links to further information, from The Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations.
  • "No Longer Strangers" / "Ya No Son Extranjeros," English and Spanish language study resource for individual or groups, to encourage prayerful reflection and respectful discussion about migration/immigration issues through the lens of scripture and shared Christian values, published by Forward Movement. More information and resources available at forwardmovement.org/NoStrangers.  

  • Partners in Welcome, the online learning and networking community from Episcopal Migration Ministries, that individuals may join to engage with others across the Church who are committed to the work of supporting refugees and asylum-seekers.