‘D&E at the Border(s)’ event reflects on humanitarian, spiritual experiences

Elkins – Davis & Elkins College students and faculty who recently traveled to the Holy Land and El Paso, Texas, will share their experiences and observations in a public presentation. “D&E at the Border(s)” will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28 in The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum in Myles Center for the Arts.  

The informal discussion and reflection will be accompanied by a slideshow from Israel, Palestine and El Paso. The event is presented by D&E’s Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy and includes a pizza dinner. It is free and open to the public.

“It was eye-opening for students to realize that, due to modern political realities, it would be impossible to walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem today,” said Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Dr. Bryan Wagoner. “The inequalities that we experienced on both sides of the separation wall were deeply unsettling, particularly as students stayed overnight with families in Bethlehem.

“Soon after our return, we had a moving conversation with Dr. Denice Reese about her experiences at a different border, working with refugees, and our students were moved to share photos and reflect on their experiences with peers and the community.”

In January, nine students, Wagoner, Benfield-Vick Chaplain the Rev. Laura Brekke Wagoner, Assistant Director of Institutional Advancement: Foundation & Church Relations Tina Vial and several community members traveled to the Holy Land. The group explored Jerusalem, Galilee and portions of the West Bank. The trip included overnight home-stays with families in Bethlehem, and several students reaffirmed their baptismal vows in the Jordan River. 

For students, the trip was part of Brekke Wagoner’s Geography Through the Bible course. Some members of the class will present and offer reflections, including juniors Megan Carder White and Carson Crawford, and senior MacKinzie Smith.

Also joining the conversation will be D&E Professor of Nursing Dr. Denice Reese who will share her account of working with refugees in El Paso, Texas, in December and March. Reese traveled to El Paso to work with Annunciation House which provides services to asylum seeking migrants who have been released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to join their sponsoring families.

The services provided by Annunciation House include facilitation of travel to the migrants’ sponsors and provision of food, shelter, clothing and basic medical services while they await their travel date.

Reese assisted the staff with referral of migrants who needed immediate health care and with the other processes of the shelter.

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