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  • Writer's pictureThe Fellows Initiative

Border Fellows: A Year Rich in Cross-Cultural Outreach, Justice and Reconciliation

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

by Yolanda Millihorn and Keisha Branch

The El Paso region embodies a distinct blend of Mexican and American culture – and distinct differences, too.

Known as Paso del Norte, “pass to the north,” the two cities of El Paso and Juàrez are intricately linked.

Each year millions of individuals cross the border to work, study, travel and visit family members. With a combined population of over three million people, this region is a center of global commerce as well as intellectual and cultural exchange.

El Paso, the largest U.S. city on the United States-Mexico border, is affectionately known as “El Chuco,” and is home to approximately 679,000 people – 85 percent of whom are of Latin descent.

Also known as the Sun City, it is a place characterized by its warm, friendly community. It has been recognized as the safest large city in America, and is becoming increasingly relevant as Hispanic populations increase across the United States.

Directly across the border lies Mexico’s fifth largest city, Ciudad Juàrez,  with an estimated population of over two million people. It is recognized for violence related to drug trafficking.

It is into this geographical context that the Border Fellows was born.

A Year in a Dynamic, Cross-Cultural – and Fun-Loving - Community

In 2010, the Church of St. Clement, Ciudad Nueva  Community Outreach, and La Frontera Youth Initiative came together to create the Border Fellows program.

These organizations wanted to create a holistic training program for recent college graduates that would teach them to love their neighbors in a dynamic, cross-cultural, bilingual, and fun-loving community.

Directed by Yolanda Milliorn, the Border Fellows  program is a ten-month intensive work and service internship on the U.S.-Mexico border that encourages fellows to integrate their vocation with God's heart for outreach, justice and reconciliation.

Fellows are challenged to realize their God-given gifts and utilize them to serve a wide range of people, including the poor and marginalized in downtown El Paso, the staff at Ciudad Nueva, and the community at the Church of St. Clement.

They also engage in educational training focused on integrating faith and vocation with ministry outreach aimed at the specific needs of the border region.

A Host Church with History

In addition to the geographical and cultural influences, the Border Fellows Program is also impacted by the history of its host church.

Located in downtown El Paso, the Church of St. Clement was founded in 1870 and was the first protestant church between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. It was named after the son of Parson Joseph Wilkin Tayes and Pope Clement III.

The church voted to separate from the Episcopal Church in 2007 and is a founding-member congregation of the Anglican Diocese of the Southwest. This diocese became an official diocese of the Anglican Church in North America in June, 2013.

The mission of The Church of St. Clement states, “The Church of St. Clement, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, by the grace of God and through the power of the Holy Spirit, intentionally pursues Real Worship, Real Relationships and Real Difference through our core values”.

Through their year the St. Clement’s, fellows will become rich in experience, but more importantly, rich in heart knowledge of God's desires. They will be better equipped to further God's kingdom in their future mission fields. The suburban-urban partnership, combined with the cross-cultural element, makes this a unique opportunity!

Aiding in Migrant Surge at the El Paso Border

Recently, The El Paso Border has become the center of the migrant surge and continues to  respond as this crisis grows. It is no longer a news article for the Bordertown; we are directly a part of what is happening in our world. We are listening to the stories of those that are traveling across our border and loving them as they arrive in El Paso. These are burdens on our hearts as we are face to face with the families traveling thousands of miles from Central America and beyond. Each day, emergency migrant shelters (a collection of churches and hotels, the Church of St. Clement being one of those churches) opens up their doors to those being dropped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). The Church of St. Clement has been hosting once a month for a little over two years, and this has been a ministry in which Border Fellows have been deeply involved.

Sources for Article:

2. World Atlas


TFI News and Updates

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