Seated on the floor of First Christian Church on a recent Sunday morning, Pastor Dave Rogers pierces the heart of a debate in Carlsbad as it adapts to a historic oil and natural gas boom. Rogers recounts to three children the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man from a despised group helps a traveler beaten, robbed and left for dead after religious passers-by ignore him.“I wonder what it’s like to be a neighbor to somebody we don’t know and that needs our help,” Rogers asks his young listeners as a dozen or so adults, mostly senior citizens, look on. This story was produced by New Mexico in Depth in collaboration with the Carlsbad Current-Argus, Las Cruces Sun-News and Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.
Welcoming strangers and helping neighbors are values many in the small congregation – and broader community – identify with Carlsbad. The hub of Eddy County in southeastern New Mexico, Carlsbad is home to a 21st century version of a gold rush in the Permian Basin that straddles New Mexico and Texas, where hydraulic fracturing is enabling companies to access an ocean of oil reserves.