I did my clinical pastoral education at the Central Correctional Institution on the banks of the Congaree River, which flows through the city of Columbia, South Carolina. The old dungeonlike facility has since been torn down and an upscale housing development is emerging in its place. At CCI, I met a guy named Pee Wee Gaskins. Great guy on the surface; also a notorious serial killer. Pee Wee asked for communion just before I left the prison that summer to return to seminary. A couple of months later he was linked to (and eventually executed for) an in-house radio bomb that killed a fellow inmate. I've often wondered whether Pee Wee asked for communion as some sort of precrime absolution for what he was hatching. Sometimes Christians think conversion is only for flamboyant and notorious sinners like Pee Wee.
Frank G. Honeycutt is pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in Walhalla, South Carolina. His latest book is The Truth Shall Make You Odd: Speaking with Pastoral Integrity in Awkward Situations (Brazos Press).