National faith leaders travel to the border to stand with immigrant families

SEP 7, 2018
Contact: Loretta Kane ([email protected] or 917-410-7242)

Auburn Seminary President Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson joins other leading theologians and clergy to witness for immigration justice at border


EL PASO, Texas — Today, faith leaders from across the country held an interfaith service at a border fence dividing the sister communities of Anapra (on the Mexican side) and Sunland Park (on the U.S. side). The service was part of “El Grito de las Fronteras” or The Cry of the Borders,” a three-day, immersive learning experience with faith-rooted immigration justice organizers based in the US and Mexico. The service is especially timely, given that, yesterday, the Trump administration announced that it would seek to extend the length of time immigrant families, including children, can be held in detention.


The Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson joined other public theologians, religion scholars and clergy members to witness first-hand the impacts of the ongoing moral crisis in America’s immigration system. Nearly 500 immigrant children are still separated from their parents and migrants are still being imprisoned in horrendous conditions across the country.

I am traveling to the border to listen, learn, stand in solidarity and witness to the great injustice to individuals and families that has been perpetrated by the United States government,” said Henderson. “As a woman of faith, and president of Auburn Seminary, one of the oldest religious institutions in America, I feel called to be present with those who suffer and to bring the moral power of my faith tradition to transform policies as well as pastoral care to those affected.”

In addition to the multifaith service at the border, the religious envoy will conduct a Jericho Walk around the prison for migrants in downtown El Paso (“the El Paso Processing Center”) this afternoon. The group also held a screening and discussion of Trails of Hope and Terror and a teach-in at the University of Texas (El Paso). (See full list of activities here.)

During the program, an outgrowth of the All Rights for All campaign hosted at Auburn Seminary’s Groundswell platform, participants were able to meet, learn and dialogue with colleagues in immigration justice from Mexico, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and directly impacted communities in the United States, including Derechos Humanos Integrales en Acción (DHIA, Ciudad Juárez), the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York, the Movement of Migrant Women and their Families (MOMUMI) and members of the Tohono O’odham Nation (TON). Auburn’s director of digital strategy, Dr. Keisha E. McKenzie, co-developed the All Rights for All campaign and joined the El Grito de Las Fronteras immersion event in El Paso.

“We need committed people of faith to work alongside migrants, immigrants and organizers across borders,” said McKenzie. “To make real progress, we also need to understand the history of the immigration system we have. People of faith are uniquely positioned to use the wisdom and migration stories of our traditions to nourish those who exercise the fundamental human right of mobility and seek a place of safety and wholeness for themselves and their families.”

US-based organizers of the event include Camilo Perez Bustillo (Hope Border Institute, TX), the Rev. Dr. Miguel de la Torre (Iliff School of Theology, CO), the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis (Middle Collegiate Church, NY), the Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey (Meadville Lombard Theological School, IL), Rev. Jennifer Butler and Dan Nejfelt (Faith in Public Life), and the Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson and Dr. Keisha E. McKenzie (Auburn Seminary, NY).


Auburn is a leadership development and research institute, working to build the field of the multifaith movement for justice. From local to global, Auburn equips leaders of faith and moral courage and brings together unlikely partners to address today’s seemingly intractable challenges, strengthen communities and inspire hope.


Click on photos for full resolution images when available.


Auburn President, the Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson offers a prayer from the border while standing with her fellow faith and clergy leaders.


Auburn’s President, the Rev Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, and Director of Digital Strategy, Dr. Keisha McKenzie stand at together at the border wall.


A mother, child, and grandmother are together for the first time in many years but still separated by the wall.


La Policia Federal arrive to sweep our friends on the Mexican side away.


Auburn’s President the Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson with Auburn Senior Fellows the Rev Jennifer Butler and the Rev. Jacqui Lewis on the border between Mexico and New Mexico.


Auburn Senior Fellow the Rev. Jacqui Lewis stands with a family separated by the border wall.


A blessing of this sacred land and these people from the Rev. Mark Seitz, Bishop of El Paso.

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