After an extended hiatus, it might seem strange to begin the monthly newsletter again with a planned four-part series on Doubt. I imagine many people might think that sounds like a particularly bad idea for writings intended to provide encouragement to a community of inmates and ministry volunteers. The inmates especially, we might think, would not benefit from reading an introduction to doubt. Indeed, many have been introduced to doubt in an all too familiar way. Continue reading
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“What church you attend on the street?”
He asked me. Here I was, attending his church,
Visiting with a ministry to inmates, sheepishly I
admitted, I don’t go to any church right now.
“Oh, well I get that, I never went either, til I
found these people. Continue reading
This documentary about Angola’s hospice program airs on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) on Thursday July 28th 2011. I had a chance to see an early screening. I highly recommend that anyone interested in what it means to “serve life” in prison take a look.
The following comes from the July 2011 Newsletter, a copy of which can be found here
I have had the privilege of accompanying several outside guests when they worship together with inmates at Angola for the first time. Upon their departure, these people often report that they have had a powerful, even life changing, experience. Many express a reluctance to leave, to which my normal jocular response is “well, I know plenty of men who would love to trade places with you.” To be sure, I mean no offence by the jest. My intention is simply to communicate the perspective of someone who sees the inside of the prison when the church call-outs are over. The truth of the matter is that the appearance of things at Angola changes during those worship services. By no means, however, does that mean that what happens during the services in which guests report having a profound experience of God’s presence is not real.
The following comes from the June 2011 Newsletter, a copy of which can be found here
“We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it”
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Followers of Christ should be well versed in the practice of letting go. It is something we are told to do throughout the gospel narratives. Jesus informs those that come to him “whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Not only must be we be willing to let go of our material possessions, we must be willing to let go of friends, family and indeed even our own lives to follow Christ. For that reason, many of the early church fathers taught that we should strive to eliminate all of our worldly attachments. Yet the “detachment” taught by the church fathers is not a stoic indifference to the world, such that we are unaffected and unmoved by events that would normally produce joy or grief. That would imply that we be uncaring, which Jesus never suggests. Rather, we are to love the world as God loves the world. So, then, we might ask, how can we be expected to so easily let go of what we love? Continue reading