Timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Presbyterian Border Ministry (currently named Presbyterian Border Region Outreach) along the U.S.-Mexico border, Parrish Jones ― a retired Presbyterian minister who teaches philosophy and religion at St. Johns River College inFlorida ― has published Presbyterians on the Frontier: A Story of Presbyterian Border Ministry 1984 to 2014.
The book ― the culmination of four years of research, site visits and interviews ― tells the story of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission along the border in conjunction with Mexican partner churches and organizations. It seeks to capture the stories of those who have served in PBM/PBRO.
“I was volunteering for Frontera de Cristo in 2010, just answering the phones and these people called in that I had first met in 1992,” said Jones. “I thought, ‘These people have stories to tell and somebody better collect them.”
As he got into the project, Jones said “the material seemed to work best as a history, even though it’s the stories of those who have worked along the border.”
Jones also includes descriptions of conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border in the 1960s and 1970s compared with today “and how the churches in both the U.S. and Mexico have responded over the years.”
“We have both been shaped by Presbyterian Border Ministry ― it has become the ‘water we swim in,’” say Jocabed Gallegos and Mark Adams, coordinators of in the sister cities of Agua Prieta, Sonora and Douglas, Ariz.
“We are grateful to Parrish Jones for writing Presbyterians on the Frontier which allows us to step outside of the water and understand more fully the power of God to transform lives including ours through this crazy thing called bi-national ministry,” they say.
“This book by Dr. Jones is a historical narrative of how our PC(USA) partners have and continue to support the visions of the Presbyterian Border Ministry, and the many friends who remain associated with these projects,” says Sandra Martin, an active member of Living Waters for the World, a clean water ministry of the Synod of Living Waters that has worked closely with PBM over the years..
“Based on his many personal experiences and interviews that provided the substance for this 30-rear study of our southern neighbors along the border, his love for Mexico and its people illuminates each chapter,” Martin adds.
The Rev. Hector Zavaleta, retired executive for Hispanic ministries for the Synod of the Southwest, was one of the co-founders of Presbyterian Border Ministry.
“Parrish Jones has given us a book for the study of the Presbyterian Border Ministry from the initial efforts of Saul Tijerina in the 1970s to the present challenges,” Zavaleta says. “He describes the relationship of mutual respect and trust that developed between churches of the U.S. and Mexico as they worked together to establish a ministry to meet the social, economic and spiritual needs at the border. It is an important guide to understanding the present ministry and the challenges of the future.”