Extending the mission

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer ’86

Wheaton alumna Amy Whitcomb Slemmer ’86 is part of a growing number of clergy who are offering support for U.S. immigrants who have been detained.

Whitcomb Slemmer, an attorney and a priest associate at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Boston, was interviewed recently by the Boston Globe about her visits with immigrants detained in Suffolk County—work she began in early 2018.

“I’ve heard stories about how people came to this country and what they fled in ways that are sobering and certainly expanded my understanding of desperation—and the hope that people see here,” she told the Globe. “Sometimes, we talk about deep spiritual questions. And often, we’re just connecting as neighbors might.”

In 2018, the Suffolk County House of Correction had 182 clergy visits to people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the Globe report. It’s a number the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department expects to see increase.

Whitcomb Slemmer said this aspect of the ministry has grown from necessity, as “we have more and more detainees and the detainees are more and more isolated.” She and other clergy members told the Globe they see the visits as keeping with their calling to “love neighbors as they love themselves.”

Whitcomb Slemmer has a bachelor’s in political science from Wheaton and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. She previously worked in health care nonprofits, with the American Red Cross and Health Care For All, before her ordination into the Episcopal priesthood. She was honored with Wheaton’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2001.