Prison Time

Today I went to a prison for the first time.

When I did my internship year in southern Illinois, I had my first experiences with our country's criminal justice system. The wife of my supervising pastor works for Lutheran Social Services in the Prisoner & Family Ministry department. She taught me SOOOO much. I was able to work at the local elementary school in Marion, IL once per week with children of incarcerated parents. It was a terrific experience.

Then, during my final year of seminary, I took a course called "Ministry to the Incarcerated and Their Families." Remember this post? "I Cried in Class Today" - it was all about a gentleman named Charles. That class changed my life. Loved it. Profound experiences.

And then, today - I was off to the local federal prison in Rochester. There are 1000 men incarcerated there.

Some of the inmates put on a production of the play "12 Angry Men." The volunteer who helps the men put on the productions is a member at the congregation I serve, so he helped me get the necessary paperwork so I could get in. They did such a terrific job with the play. Very, very wonderful.

It was a splendid and eye-opening afternoon. Someday, I will write a longer post (and hopefully I short story) about the experience. It was very moving on a variety of levels. Here are some pictures. I couldn't get that many because once I got up close, cameras weren't allowed.

I'm so so so so so thankful to God for all these prison-related experiences. These experiences have reminded me that we are all part of one human family, and how we treat each other - both "behind the wall" and "on the outside" - is a reflection of our lives of faith.

Here we are.

Helpful sign.

Preparing for another adventure in ministry.
In the distance, you can see the prison.

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