Joining Episcopalians at Hutto Detention Center

Episcopalians gathered between two baseball diamonds – the permitted gathering place – to hold a Prayer of Vision, Witness and Justice near the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

As we stood there on Sunday, July 8, hundreds of us singing towards the hard walls of the Hutto Detention Center, in one of the slim windows a hand began to wave. Soon, many hands in many windows.  These hands belong to women whose children have been separated from them as they sought safety in a new land.

Nineteen buses transported more than 1,000 Episcopalians from the Austin Convention Center to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a 40-minute drive from Austin. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Two weeks ago emails began to float amongst deputies to General Convention imploring some action in response to the government’s separation of children from immigrant families. That Sunday morning morning over 800 people loaded busses and hundreds more in cars for a 35-minute trip to the Detention Center. There we gathered under the midday Texas sun.  Spontaneous song arose and over 1000 voices carried the love of Christ towards the women behind those waving hands. Soon after the official program began about half the crowd broke off and tromped across the field, yearning to be closer to women behind those windows.  Prayers were spoken.  Bp. Curry preached and more song arose.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached a sermon of “love God, love neighbor” to more than 1,000 people during a Prayer of Vision, Witness and Justice near the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a detention facility in Taylor, Texas, housing 500 female non-U.S. citizens awaiting the outcome of their immigration status. Photo: Frank Logue

Then it was over – and the inevitable poignant moment when many realized, as we were boarding our air-conditioned busses to return to our lives of freedom enabled by the happy accident of the place of our births, that after we were gone, those hands would remain trapped behind those slim windows.


I invite you to engage with the needs of families separated at our border. The Episcopal Public Policy network has resources for immigration here: 


If your heart is moved to give:



The Rev. Kevin Johnson is an alternate deputy from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. He leads the congregation of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Texas; they gather for worship in Theatre Arlington.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is a welcoming, Christ-centered community of congregations committed to a radical hospitality. We are committed to sharing the faith that has changed our lives. We are committed to welcoming ALL people. We have no barriers to participation because of race, gender, or sexual orientation. We are committed to embracing the diversity that God has created. We welcome seekers, embrace inquiry, and offer a wide variety of worship styles grounded and unified by the liturgy in our Book of Common Prayer. We try to take our Christian beliefs and put them to work outside of where we worship. We invite you to any of our churches to join in worship and service.