The service, led by Minister Rev. Bonnie Tarwater, was the first in a series of sermons the church plans to hold outside the center each Sunday in July. The small gathering featured music and prayer, with worshipers foregoing their standard pews for folding chairs.
Tarwater told FOX 5 that the idea for the services arose from protests outside the center that some church members attended. "We are a community ministry ready to go where people need us, and clearly people in this detention center need our prayers and our protest," the minister said Sunday.
The Otay Mesa Detention Center has served as a focal point in local activists' resistance to federal immigration policies, namely the Trump administration's "no-tolerance" enforcement orders at the border that led to children being separated from their parents as the adults faced criminal charges for entering the country illegally.