Love, justice and peace drive the work of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and also are the inspiration for four synods committed to the well-being of Mexican and U.S. Presbyterians along the southwest border.

The PC(USA) synods of the Southwest and Sun and the Sinodo del Israel and Sinodo del Noroeste in Mexico entered into negotiations and discussions to begin a joint mission to — among other things — help address migration and immigration issues, violence against women, poverty and the economics of Mexico. 

The conversations “started by talking about violence against women in Mexico and asking the question, ‘How do we partner together to deal with these issues?’” said Ruling Elder Conrad Rocha, interim synod executive for the Synod of the Southwest.

Those visits led to a larger partnership and the two PC(USA) synods applied for and received a $92,000 Heiserman Grant to support the collaborative work to build relationships and develop missional partnerships along the border.

Although differences between the PC(USA) and the Presbyterian Church in Mexico on the ordination of women and gays and lesbians led to a suspense of the formal relationship between the U.S. and Mexican synods, work is still being done across the border on key issues, Rocha said.

The focus has shifted from official church bodies and councils to organizations like Café Justo, a ministry that supports coffee farmers in Mexico, Rocha said.

“Non-governing body relationships that can foster communication help all involved feel like they are still serving a just and right cause,” he said.

Rocha is confident missional work between the two bodies will continue on the fringes until differences between Mexican and U.S. Presbyterians can be resolved. 

The question remains the same: “What are our common social justice causes and how can we join one another there?” he said.

Funds for the Heiserman program came from a bequest made in 1966 by Geraldine Heiserman, who was the widow of a Yuma, Colo., farmer and landowner named Lemont Heiserman. The bulk of their estate was left in trust to the church. The GAMC divided more than $990,000 of that gift among 16 synods to encourage mission projects that reflect partnership between or among two or more synods or other PC(USA) entities.

Daniel Tipton is a writer for Richards Hill Communications and a student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.