Bishop Ward and Bishop Robert Schnase of the Rio Texas Conference discuss the many ways United Methodists are in ministry at the US/Mexico border.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Cabinet, the Residents in Ordained Ministry, and I have had a wonderful time here in the Valley district in the Rio Texas Conference. Bishop Robert Schnase is our host, the presiding Bishop of this area. This is your home to which you’ve returned.
That’s right. That’s right.
Bishop Ward: Can you tell us a little bit about liminal space?
Liminal space. So this area right on the border with Mexico is this kind of intermingling and sometimes even clashing of cultures that is not like it is anywhere else in the United States or like it is anywhere in Mexico, but it’s just this natural interplay of family relationships, of friendship, relationships, business relationships. It is a special place that right now is kind of this focal point of many of the conversations that are happening across the United States – about immigration, about border wall, about any number of things, trading with Mexico – and so this is a good place to come and get in the center of the action and learn what’s really going on and get some perspective of what’s the humanitarian crisis, as well as what United Methodists are doing about it and the many United Methodist ministries that are trying to make a difference.
Bishop Ward: I often receive the question, in fact, I received it last week, what are United Methodists doing?
Bishop Schnase: Oh my.
Bishop Ward: On the border?
Bishop Schnase: That covers such a wide span of ministries. We had a gathering in this Conference of all the folks that are working pretty directly with some kind of humanitarian relief and 104 people who are basically working full time in various positions, some of them offering legal support when there are questions of refugee status, others just basic, meeting basic human needs. I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. There’s a sense in which the Christian witness has to be seen from as being sin fronteras – without borders. That doesn’t mean our national policy is an open border, but it means that when there is someone in dramatic need right before us, that we’ve got to offer our best and highest for the purposes of Christ as we see in the life of Jesus.
Bishop Ward: Thank you for welcoming us and for welcoming many to this marvelous place.
¡Muchas gracias! Es un privilegio tenerles aquí con nosotros. Dios le bendiga. (Thank you! It is a privilege to have you here with us. God bless you.)
Bishop Ward: Bendiciones. (Blessings.)