Adapted from the House of Deputies’ website
General Convention deputies and bishops have planned a prayer service outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, at about noon on July 8.
The planning team, led by the Rev. Megan Castellan, an alternate deputy and rector of St. John’s Church in Ithaca, New York. The team is working with Grassroots Leadership, which has organized numerous protests at the Hutto center.
“What is happening to those at our borders is monstrous,” Castellan said. “My bishop, DeDe Duncan-Probe [of Central New York], and I were discussing how we, as a church, could respond on Saturday morning. By evening, and with the help of enthusiastic Episcopalians across the church, the idea had taken shape.”
The detention center at 1001 Welch St. in Taylor is operated for Immigration and Customs Enforcement by CoreCivic, formerly the Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company, and is about a 40-minute drive from the Austin Convention Center.
The Rev. Winnie Varghese, a deputy and director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street, is helping to arrange buses to the event.
Varghese says Trinity Wall Street hopes to provide buses for the event that would depart from the convention center at 10:45 a.m. Organizers say participants may also drive to the detention center. Parking is available nearby.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, have arranged for a one-hour delay in Sunday’s legislative calendar to enable participation by bishops and deputies.
The event, which Curry and Jennings will attend, is open to all who are committed to praying for an end to the inhumane treatment of those seeking asylum in the United States. It has been planned not to conflict with a Bishops United Against Gun Violence event at 9:30 a.m. in Brush Square Park, near the convention center.
A former medium-security prison, the Hutto center has been the target of frequent lawsuits that allege harsh conditions, poor food, and sexually abusive guards. Originally a family detention center, the facility has since 2009 housed only women immigrants and asylum-seekers.
The planning team, which includes several clergy and parishioners of the Diocese of Texas and the Association of Episcopal Deacons, is considering follow-up advocacy.