Prison Ministry

The biblical concept of justice focuses on the victim, the offender and the community, in the hope of restoring all to a sense of God’s wholeness. It is also important to understand that our Methodist heritage is rich with examples of ministries carried out in jails and prisons. John and Charles Wesley had a passion for those in prison. As early as 1778, the Methodist Conference adopted action making it the duty of every Methodist preacher to minister to those who were incarcerated. United Methodists have reaffirmed and expanded the mandate for prison ministry and reform in many different chapters of our denominational history. This is a part of our identity and call.

Adapted from Mission Plan for Restorative Justice Ministries from The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, 2012.


EPA Conference Committee on Prison Ministry and Restorative Justice

Goal: Ecumenical collaboration to provide support through advocacy, education, restorative justice and resources for individuals, families and communities affected by the criminal justice system. Everyone can do something!Restorative Justice: Healing the Effects of Crime

Chairperson

Rev. Marilyn Schneider
610-696-2663
prisonministries@epaumc.org


Christmas Cards for prison inmates ministry resumes with Nov. 5, 2018 deadline

woman signing christmas cardsIt’s that special time of the year again. The Eastern PA Conference Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice (PMRJ) Team is asking church and conference members and friends to download, print and sign its online selection of Christmas greeting cards to be delivered and shared, in an act of Christian love, with thousands of prison inmates across our region. The deadline for cards to be delivered to the Conference Office or to District offices is Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.

The Christmas Cards for Inmates Project has grown each year. Last December nearly 9,500 Christmas cards were, in the words of a popular song, “signed, sealed, delivered,” mostly to recipients in 11 of our region’s county and state correctional facilities. That total exceeded the roughly 8,000 signed cards collected in 2016.

All it takes to succeed each year is for more people to pen a few caring words and sign their names to simple, photocopied greeting cards . The cards are carefully designed and vetted, bearing modest but meaningful messages of Christmas hope and joy. They inspire in many inmates grace and gratitude, emotions perhaps rarely felt living in a penal institution.

Visit the Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice webpage and find the downloadable cards and instructions. It is a perfect way to remember the true reason for the Christmas season. Also view the UMCom video about this ministry produced in 2016:  Church Christmas Cards Show Care to Prisoners | View on YouTube 

Note: Inmate mail screening and delivery restrictions were recently imposed at PA state prisons after employees were exposed to dangerous drugs and other unknown substances through the mail. The PMRJ Team is working with prison authorities to continue bulk delivery of our Christmas cards to state and county institutions in November.

Why is Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice Important?
  • As Christians we are called to do this:
    • Matthew 25:36b “I was in prison and you visited me”
    • Hebrews 13:3a “Remember those who are in prison as though you are in prison with them”
  • John Wesley believed that personal holiness needs to lead to social holiness and social justice.  He ministered in prisons beginning in 1730.
  • Currently a large no of people in the US are under control of the criminal justice system
  • The costs to incarcerate people are considerable.  If we can help prevent situations that lead to incarceration, and help those who are incarcerated avoid recidivism, we will not only save money but will gain as these individuals contribute in a positive manner to society."I was in prison, and you visited me." Matthew 25:36
Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice Resources
Kairos Prison Ministry

Kairos is a 3-day course on Christianity similar to Walk-to-Emmaus for men and women who are inside prisons and, through Kairos Outside, meeting the spiritual needs of women waiting for their incarcerated loved ones. Kairos teaches about Jesus Christ and his call to each of us, his healing, and his request that we help each other and love each other. Even more important, the ultimate goal is not outsiders caring for those inside. Its goal is to build a strong community of faith on the inside – so inmates are there for each other, to support one another and lift up their brothers and sisters when they need it. They are there for each other – every day, throughout the day – at times when volunteers from the outside could never be there. Kairos prison ministry has programs in 38 states in the U.S. and in nine other countries, including 9 programs in Pennsylvania and two in Delaware.

Contact Scott Johnson for more information: 610-608-7862, scottmjohnson@att.net, Royersford UMC


Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice News