Prison Ministry Leaders Explore Best Practices

June 01, 2012 | Colette Newer

Eighty leaders from the Washington, Oregon and Upper Columbia conferences assembled in Gladstone, Ore., in mid-April for a prison ministry retreat.

The retreat featured classes such as prisoner re-entry into the community, chemical dependency, family reconciliation, ministry to juvenile offenders, serving outside prison walls, and Financial Peace University.

In one session, Don't Follow Me, a ministry group of ex-inmates sharing their stories in schools and churches, explained how they encourage youth to make different choices in dealing with their emotions and situations. This group is coordinated by Cleveland Houser, North American Division prison ministries consultant, who also presented at the retreat.

Attendees learned prison ministry best practices from Patty Desy, Washington State Department of Corrections chemical dependency program administrator; Floyd Marshall, Western State Hospital counselor and Washington Conference prison ministry coordinator; Jan Bishop, Multnomah County (Ore.) Juvenile Services community justice manager; and David and Jeannie Richardson, Oregon prison ministry volunteers.

The retreat brought together a good mix of people, including some who are exploring the possibility of getting involved in prison ministry. "I've felt a call to this type of ministry," says one attendee. "Thank you for confirming what God has put into my heart."

The retreat is held every two years and is planned by the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) prison ministry advisory committee, which has representatives from all conferences and is chaired by Alphonso McCarthy, NPUC vice president of regional affairs and prison ministry director.