The Bishop’s E-pistle: Welcoming the Stranger

The situation on our southern border is in flux right now, as policies and practices change with the transition in presidential administrations. It’s a good prompt to review the diocesan ministries around our border, and introduce the Diocese of Arizona to how they are progressing.

Our flagship border ministry, Cruzando Fronteras, continues to shelter about 200 people in Nogales, Sonora, who are seeking asylum in the United States. This ministry, supported in tandem with our Lutheran and United Church of Christ partners, moved a little more than a year ago into La Casa de la Misericordia y Todas las Naciones. We are currently encouraging financial donations to Cruzando Fronteras (rather than in-kind donations) and you can do so online.

There are other initiatives, both new and old, going on in our diocese as well. A few I’d like to highlight include:

Last week, the Rev. David Chavez, our Missioner for Border Ministries, hosted the first gathering of The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona Borderland Ministries Council, which will continue to organize a diocesan wide approach to borderland ministries that will engage, educate, and mobilize our diocesan family to practically engage within the intersectionality of migrant justice, border issues and concerns, advocacy and policy work. If you are interested in learning more about the Council, or if your congregation is engaged in work on these issues and wants to be included, please reach out to David.

In the southeastern corner of our state, the Naco Wellness Initiative continues their work, supported by many Episcopalians in Arizona. New ministry opportunities are coming in that area as well. About seven weeks ago, our friends in the Douglas/Agua Prieta borderland region received calls from CBP about possible migrant releases into Douglas, Arizona. Immediately, the Sisters of Notre Dame, Fronteras de Cristo, the Presbyterian Church, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, and a host of partners began mobilizing the Douglas community, including police and the mayor, to begin staging a strategy for the up and coming releases. If this becomes a situation where we need volunteers on the ground in Douglas, or assistance with transport, we will put the call out to the Diocese.

Finally, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is looking for funding, volunteers, and churches or individuals that can house asylum seekers overnight, as the Phoenix Welcome Center is now overflowing with people. Interested congregations and individuals can contact Beth Strano of IRC.