2023 USA Mission Experience: Arizona and the Border Region
I am with you and will keep you wherever you go. —Genesis 28:15
When faced with phrases like “U.S.–Mexico border” or “borderlands,” it’s easy to mentally or emotionally distance ourselves from what’s happening there. Over the years we’ve heard about children intentionally separated from their families, long waits at ports of entry, desperate attempts to navigate the deserts or river to enter the U.S., smuggling car-tels, caravans, detention centers and on and on. In our polarized political climate, it’s similarly easy to absolve ourselves of connection to the wall built, surveillance towers erected, rounds of immigration legislation passed, divisive rhetoric that uses terms like crisis, illegals and criminals. We are faced with the heart-rendering question of who belongs.
The 2023 USA Mission Experience (USAME) to the U.S.–Mexico border was an opportunity for Presbyterian Women to learn about migration and border issues, and discern a faithful response. Participants heard from individuals about why they came to the U.S.—threats to their safety, lack of jobs, persecution over religious beliefs, civil war—and what they knew, if anything, about what their passage and new homeland would be like. And in terms of discerning a faithful response, partici-pants had the benefit of learning from individuals and organizations already doing this work in many ways and places. The work takes the form of various ministries and programs, with relevancy for every community.
Now, the challenges and hopes encountered by 18 USAME participants will be shared with the wider Presbyterian Women community. In this issue of Horizons, you’ll find what our scriptures and faith tradition have to say about how we should respond to people migrating to build a safer life (p. 5). You’ll learn from Frontera de Cristo—a Presbyterian bi-national ministry with deep roots in the border region that supports community members through a variety of programs (p. 9). You’ll learn about the many ways that congregations (p. 22) and other groups extend welcome to and help meet the needs of newcomers to the U.S.
You’ll also find reflections from those who went on the trip (sand-colored boxes beginning on p. 6). The participants share encounters and moments that inspired or challenged them. These same individuals are ready to share their insights and hopes with PW groups; see page 24 for contact information to invite a USAME participant to your next event.
This issue also contains the Celebrate the Gifts of Women liturgy that reinterprets a well-known scripture as a call to community; a list of the Fellowship of the Least Coin grant recipients supported by our prayers and coins; and the slate of nominees for PW, Inc.’s 2024–2027 Board of Directors and Search Committee. These ongoing commitments and glimpse of our future offer reassurance that our dedicated network can and will make an incredible impact on the world by sharing God’s love with all.
—Sharon Dunne Gillies, PW managing editor
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Migration: The Movement of Borders, Policies and People
Mark Adams offers insights on the shifting borders and the patchwork of legislation and practices that govern how, where and when people can enter the U.S.
People Crossing Borders—Definitions and Reflections
A clear understanding of the pathways to entering the U.S. is essential. Check your learning with these definitions and related reflections from USA Mission Experience participants.
Sanctuary: A Historic Movement with Evolving Strategies
Leslie Carlson describes the ways Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson has cared for migrants, including supporting day laborers and partnering to make housing available.
The USA Mission Experience at a Glance
Find out how to invite a USA Mission Experience participant to make a presentation to your PW group, and how to work for meaningful change.
Celebrate the Gifts of Women
Proverbs 31 Wonder Woman: Real or Myth?
Fellowship of the Least Coin
Liza B. Lamis
Anna H. Bedford Bible Study Resource
Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins offers reflections and questions for use in studying Lessons Five and Six of the 2023–2024 PW/Horizons Bible study, Sacred Encounters: The Power and Presence of Jesus Christ in Luke-Acts, by Olive Mahabir.
Recognizing Christ in Our Midst
Cecilia Amorocho Hickerson
Unpacking the Theme: Scripture Study
Resistance and Hope: A Faithful Response to the Realities of Migration
Rev. Cheri Harper
Stories from the Ages
A Recipie for Tradition
Hillary Moses Mohaupt
News and Information about Presbyterian Women and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
An Ever-Present Love
Strengthening the PC(USA)
Mission Partnerships in the Southwest