San Antonio pastor discusses taking in immigrants from detention centers

SAN ANTONIO – As San Antonio receives immigrants from detention centers, one church in downtown San Antonio is opening its heart and its door.

“I think it’s really important that we are mindful that folks have been through a lot to just get here,” Eric Vogt, Senior Pastor at Travis Park United Methodist Church said.

Vogt said they continue to help as immigrant agents drop migrants off at San Antonio’s Greyhound bus station in downtown.

“It’s so overwhelming. You’ve been in a detention center, really wanting to be good parents, take care of kids,” Vogt said.

Vogt said they are serving in any way they can.

“I hope they are able to breathe a little bit easier, being in this church space with us,” Vogt said.

Vogt said he has seen an uptick in the number of immigrants who come to his church for help this year.

“When people are coming, we might get a text or find out a few hours in advance, so it’s a little bit hard to know when exactly we need people. But we try to scramble and get people here,” Vogt said.

Pastor Vogt said volunteers are crucial and they need more.

“This place would not be able to do half of what we do without so much volunteer help both from within our congregation and from the community,” Pastor Vogt said.

Shirley Watkins and her family joined the church in the 70s.

“It was a very different church then lots of older people. It was the big downtown church. We decided to reach out to our neighbors on the streets and people that might not look like us and that really changed my heart,” Watkins said.

Watkins said there is space in the church, including a playroom and cafeteria.

“Everyone is welcomed here. We are a block away from the Greyhound bus station. So it’s very easy to minister to and with those people, an interfaith coalition, the backpack coalition, we have this facility and during the week sometimes it's vacant. So why not welcome others in?” Watkins said.

About the Author

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

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