Church Together: Experiencing the Border


By Susan Mitchell, Rocky Mountain Synod Council Member 


On November 2, weeks of planning resulted in twenty members of the Rocky Mountain Synod Council and members of the Synod Staff driving from Denver to El Paso in two church vans. The journey brought them to the Border for their fall business meeting. The vans took time to make stops along the way at several of our synod congregations. We were greeted with warm hospitality, snacks, hugs and restrooms! This was a great way to connect with members across the state lines from Colorado to New Mexico to Texas. We were welcomed at King of Kings in Pueblo, CO, St. Timothy’s in Albuquerque, NM, Desert Springs in Truth or Consequences, NM, and finally at Cristo Rey in El Paso. Valley Lutheran of Los Lunas, NM and Zion of Trinidad, CO gave hospitality on the way home. We spread out for our three-night stay.  Staff and council members spread out between hosts from Peace and Mount Hope, bunk beds at Cristo Rey, and a nearby hotel. Our meeting, though important for carrying out the business of the Synod, only took one afternoon. 


Conversation with Border Patrol on the banks of the Rio Grande
The rest of our time was spent participating in a mini-border immersion, led by Pastor Rose Mary -Guzman and her husband Fernando of Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey. We went to the banks of the Rio Grande and engaged in conversation with 2 Border Patrol agents to learn about the many refugees and asylum seekers who come across the US/Mexico border in and near El Paso. There is a detention center where people are housed and fed while awaiting their asylum hearing.  Many are able to go to relatives in the US pending their court dates. We visited Annunciation House, which houses refugees when the detention center is full. The stories are an important part of learning first-hand about the people who are desperate to leave violence and economic hardship in their own countries. Pastor Rose Mary led us to one of the colonias in eastern El Paso, one of many poor, rural areas that often have very limited services like electricity and water. When you hear families speak of their struggles, it becomes very real. That evening we sat in the home of a family and ate tamales together as they shared their story.

IMAG0365.jpgSaturday, we boarded two Cristo Rey vans and drove across the bridge from El Paso into Mexico. We went to a Mexican colonias--Anapra--just at the edge of the city of Juarez. We went to a library, which was donated to that community by a church in Kansas City. The two women who volunteer
there gave amazing testimonies to the positive changes they are able to make in the lives of children and  parents--education is not free in Mexico, and scholarships are an important part of the work of these women. We also visited a health clinic and had wonderful conversations with two medical doctors there. The vans stopped at the wall built along the Rio Grande so we could look through it towards Texas.  

Our weekend ended with a worship service Saturday evening at Cristo Rey. We each shared one important moment and concluded with holy communion. On Sunday, synod council and staff joined the other 4 ELCA congregations in El Paso before heading back north. In total, we made visits to 10 congregations in 4 day- Christ's Church, Better Together indeed!

We hope this trip gave everyone a deeper awareness of life at the border and how we can work together to proclaim and embody God's unconditional love for the sake of the world! 

Synod Council members with Pastor Andrea and members of Zions, Trinidad