Justice Encounters

Justice Encounters: Border Immersion March 23-28, 2023

Rio Grande Valley | McAllen, TX | Reynosa, Mexico

Join us for a four-day border immersion experience in the Rio Grande Valley that immerses the team of up to forty individuals in the cultural realities of life at the U.S./Mexico border. Our team will spend four days learning the realities of what drives people to flee their homelands and the immigration path people encounter in the U.S. We will hear from experts, border agents, and attorneys to hear the complexities for immigrants and all who serve to meet the humanitarian need as we visit shelters, agencies, and ministries that serve in and around McAllen, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico. A passport is highly recommended for our day trip into Mexico.

The immersion experience was developed under the leadership of Bishop Ruben Saenz, Jr. in collaboration with Susan Hellums, Border Area Coordinator with the El Valle District of the Rio Texas Conference and First UMC McAllen, Texas and is sponsored by the Great Plains Conference Mercy & Justice Team. In our commitment to cultivating a culture in the Great Plains Conference where justice is as normal as mercy, we stand in solidarity with undocumented immigrants and we believe that as people of faith we are called to learn and discern how we respond as the Body of Christ with our immigrant and refugee neighbors in the Great Plains Conference.

The Mercy & Justice Team has caught a God-sized vision of developing leaders for the work of racial justice across the conference and your participation in this practice of immersive, embodied learning is a first step in raising up 26 diverse leaders for the work of racial justice in the Great Plains Conference by 2026.

Trip Details

Andrea Paret, peace with justice coordinator; Rev. Anne Gahn, mercy and justice chair; Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and Rev. Sarah Marsh, mercy and justice coordinator in a border immersion experience in 2022.

We will stay in McAllen, TX at a local hotel. We are working on meal plans that support local ethnic businesses. We will travel around the area in passenger vans. We encourage rooming with a team member to build relationships and connections for the work that will continue beyond the trip. We will participate in personal and group reflections before, during, and following the immersion. Our work will be highly relational and will ask you to engage deeply in what you see, hear, and feel throughout the experience.

The total cost for the immersion is estimated to be around $1400. The Mercy & Justice Team has committed to funding the first $700 per participant which makes possible the participant’s cost at only $700/person. We are a team committed to justice and know that there are people who should participate on this trip but may be limited by the financial investment. Please note there is a box on the registration form to check if additional financial assistance would make it possible for you to participate. There is a $200 deposit to secure your spot due by Dec. 31, 2022 and the remaining balance is due by January 31, 2023.

In order to begin our team preparations mid to late January, applications should be received by December 31, 2022.

For more information contact our Team Leader: Anne Gahn, agahn@greatplainsumc.org; 402-499-4229.

Click here to apply: https://gp-reg.brtapp.com/JEIMarch2023


GCORR awards grant

A $10,000 grant from the General Commission on Religion and Race will go toward a border immersion opportunity for those in the Great Plains Conference wanting to learn more about immigration. Learn more.