To facilitate and help coordinate local church efforts aimed at the recovery and redemption of individuals currently incarcerated and assist in their successful return to society as disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by; “Collaboratively” Defining and adjusting interface opportunities with state and local penal institutions and identifying resources available and willing to participate in support of “UMM NGA Service objectives for men as defined in its Vision, Mission and Goals Statements”
How does what we envision help accomplish the UMM of North Georgia Conference Vision, Mission and Goals.
One could claim that since the conference UMM Goals define as one of its 10 Areas of ministry a Prison Ministry, that it’s active existence fulfils a goal. However, we need to be able to articulate how the successful implementation of the developing projects will fulfill a defined Vision Objective like “Encouraging men to be engaged in Service and fellowship with the Purpose of Developing Disciples of Jesus Christ”. How it would also fulfill a stated Mission Objective like “Building Servant Leaders for Christ”. Prison Ministry service is an acknowledgement that we work in partnership with God in the stewardship of our lives and an example of our stated Goals for UMM NG to “Increase participation in EMS” (Every Man Serves) in Evangelism and its objective of accomplishing individual Spiritual Growth of BOTH the men serving and those incarcerated. In Prison Ministry those serving experience Spiritual Growth and become better Servant Leaders for Christ as they grow and learn that sharing of the gospel in a very different environment forces the provider into fresh approaches and the feedback into a fuller understanding of the material and those being served. Genuine laity sharing is fresh and when nonjudgmental is more often received with the spirit of “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread” and its uniqueness and honesty often times is successful where other approaches have failed.
The Prison Ministry development effort to date has identified and launched two separate but coexistent initiatives.
Our Website development project emanates from our Conference level desire to share information and best practices in order to multiply the outreach involvement of resources in the service of an audience in great need of Christian help.
The second, a desire to positively affect the lives of those incarcerated, their families, society in general and those willing to help in being the hands and feet of our Lord and Savior. Although the mere fact that a child of God has been placed in prison by society is disheartening, the fact that that child will most likely reoffend and the compounding effect on their family and society of that likelihood is depressing and to so many seemingly unnecessary. It has perplexed mankind for years and yet there remain exceptions to the inevitability of recidivism that give hope.
There are programs that have had varying degrees of success in returning ex-offenders to become meaningful contributing participants in society and what we have learned is the level and type of support the ex-offender receives is critical to their success. Yes there will always be those who are not successful in their return, but the fact that large numbers have succeeded encourages us to learn from and try replicating the successful approaches.
While there are many organizations specializing in providing a component of the needed recipe, failure in not having a key ingredient normally results in failure of the objective of having an ex-offender not return to a way of life that results in a return to prison. And since one of the ingredients ALWAYS required for successful return to society is a supportive community our goal is to provide the link to mentoring and support that will afford the United Methodist Men of the North Georgia Conference the opportunity through serving to fulfill the Goals of our Vision and Mission statements. Additionally the roll of our ministry will be to exhaust every effort to be sure that the partners on our website work in unison to accomplish the stated goal of returning ex-offenders to society as productive citizens and reducing the impact on families of incarceration. Another stated goal of the Prison Ministry is to establish a record of success and a proven process that can then be extended through the church to incarcerated women.
Website objective. From the success stories on reentry we know that the ability to earn a living, have a home and be supported by an encouraging community is almost always necessary for successful outcomes. Evidence of the positive effect of education programs, job training, life skills training, and the participants demonstrating Christian principles are the most common ingredients of successful reentry. Our vision with our website is to establish a network of providers who can work in unison to provide all the ingredients needed for success. The logical approach is to take a provider that has successfully provided the most components and add other providers’ content and our resources of a supportive community. Successful merger of content and effort will also provide an opportunity for members to learn of service opportunities within the individual providers and afford them additional service avenues.
Our initial effort to find component providers was slowed by COVID and absent of up-to- date information on what was available in prison ministry. In the interim we were able to acquire a support agreement from Kairos Prison Ministry that offers significant in prison Christian program training, but does not have a transitional component to contribute to the follow on post release support. We are now in advanced interface discussions with the Jumpstart organization and the Georgia Department of Corrections to have Jumpstart be our major transitional component provider including the pre- and post-release capability. The good news is that KAIROS and Jumpstart have a record of cooperation within the South Carolina and Ohio Departments of Correction.
Prison Ministries SMART Goals are now heavily dependent on refinement of the Jumpstart Linkage for our Website into their latest website release. Phase goals of projected development and testing objectives are envisioned during the summer of 2023. Additional discussions with other potential content providers is currently in process.