For me, the joy is seeing how even seemingly insignificant offers of hospitality are deeply significant for people who simply want to be welcomed home, who have done their time and who deserve to be reintegrated into the community in a loving and respectful way. A little goes a long way. Think of a person who’s just getting out of prison. Think of what they need: that first set of clothes, first set of clean underwear, a birth certificate, a government-issued ID, a safe place to live, trauma resources, job interview training.
“The Prison Ministry Network is our challenge to the faith communities to live out the gospel in very specific ways and to stand in the gap,” says Shaw, who believes that hope relies on the volunteer power of communities coming together. “More than ever, our churches are needed.”
Presbyterians in the Northeast have been engaged in ministry with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons for as long as we have been in this region. During its September 2015 meeting, the Synod Mission and Ministries Commission approved the formation of a Prison Ministry Network. The primary purpose of the Prison Ministry Network is to improve the pre-release and post-release reentry process of persons formerly incarcerated into welcoming communities.