prison ministry

American evangelicals and mainliners often seem worlds apart when it comes to engagement with social issues. Take prisons as a case in point. The rhetoric diverges along the lines that one might expect: mainliners rail against the American mass incarceration system, the new Jim Crow that locks away minorities and the poor and is sustained by in-prison private labor and for-profit facilities. They want to fight this sinful system through activism (protests and petitions), academia (lectures and scholarly books), and artistic endeavors (photo essays and poetry).  Evangelicals seek inmate conversion. 
April 30, 2014

When I was a newly ordained pastor, I heard a speech by a federal judge. The judge said that he kept in contact with every person he sentenced to prison. His rationale was simple: he didn’t want his only impact on an individual to be the act of denying his or her freedom. Though as a pastor I visited hospitals almost daily, I had never been inside a jail. Within a few weeks of hearing that judge’s challenge, I made my first visit to the county jail.
October 3, 2006