Prison Ministry: Good Call?

TO WHOM SHOULD WE SHOW LOVE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? We received an email from a friend recently directing us to a pamphlet issued by the South Carolina Baptist Convention. The pamphlet – which you can view here – gives instructions to individuals who wish to send care packages to prisoners…


We received an email from a friend recently directing us to a pamphlet issued by the South Carolina Baptist Convention. The pamphlet – which you can view here – gives instructions to individuals who wish to send care packages to prisoners this holiday season.

“This is ridiculous,” our friend wrote.

“Ridiculous?”  Puzzled … we probed her for an explanation as to why a pamphlet about prison ministries was “ridiculous.”  According to our friend it’s a question of prioritization – meaning that she thinks prisoners shouldn’t rank very high on the list of those who deserve our benevolence and good will.

Who should receive this holiday cheer instead?

“Wounded soldiers in Walter Reed, military members overseas, cancer patients in St. Jude who won’t live until high school, etc.,” our friend said, rattling a few examples off the top of her head.

Interesting … and a fair point.

Personally we don’t have a problem with prison ministries.  And while we were always pretty high in Sunday School growing up, we seem to recall some passages in The Bible about doing “unto the least of these” and all of us “having sinned and fallen short of the glory” of God.

Participating in a prison ministry would obviously lend expression to these fundamental Christian principles …

Of course the beauty of our philanthropic economy (a key component of our free market) is that we get to help whoever we want to help – and withhold our charity as we see fit. Well … at least until Barack Obama eliminates charitable deductions as part of his effort to create a full-fledged government monopoly on welfare.


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? December 5, 2012 at 9:46 am

Dude, really good write up.

I have to comment on this line though:

“And while we were always pretty high in Sunday School growing up,”

That is the funniest line you’ve written in a while.

Not only were you “high” in Sunday school(LMAO! I’ll be it makes it tolerable at least) but constantly referring to yourself as “we” is funny as hell.

It makes think you’re suffering from multiple personality disorder or something. Unless of course you want to tell us you weren’t the only one high in Sunday school…in which case maybe you can convert me to whatever local religion is smoking joints in a room and discussing god on Sunday mornings.

? December 5, 2012 at 9:47 am

edit: be to bet

and “makes me think”

Smirks December 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

Not only were you “high” in Sunday school(LMAO! I’ll be it makes it tolerable at least) but constantly referring to yourself as “we” is funny as hell.

And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. -Mark 5:9

to smirks December 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

First thought, funny as hell. Second though, that would actually explain a lot.

interested December 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

I think the motivation for prison ministries comes from, “when I was sick you healed me, hungry you fed me, in prison you ministered to me” I cannot quote exactly but that is the gist of it. Who are we to decide to whom to minister to? We plant the seeds as the parable goes, without knowing whether it lands on good or rocky ground. to take exception to a lack of triage in ministry fails to take into consideration who really does the work of forgiveness – is it not us.

south mauldin December 5, 2012 at 11:40 am

Your friend is an asshole. Visits from my church members to the prison in Pelzer is the only contact for some of these people. They are eternally grateful for the visits.

And remember that many of these people will be paroled in the future, and I would rather encounter a parolee with a good attitude toward life than one who never had any positive interaction in his/her life and sat in prison hating people and waiting for the chance to get out and cause some serious trouble.

Freedoms , remember? December 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Perhaps your friend should launch her own denomination and then write and publish a pamphlet instructing her members where to focus their philanthropy at Christmas time.

What is wrong with a church or convention offering guidance to its congregation, parish or whatever they refer to their membership as, regardless of the topic?

Too many people looking to find what is wrong with others rather than focusing that energy inward for some positive growth.

No longer a Baptist but certainly have learned to live and let live.

? December 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Let us not forget that some people sitting in jail are actually innocent.

Original Good Ole Boy December 5, 2012 at 7:26 pm

And many are victims themselves — of unjust laws.

Mike at the Beach December 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

There are exceedingly few (read, almost none) people in jail who did not commit the offense with which they are charged. That’s just a fact. You can disagree with the laws, but don’t fall for the mythology of the wrongly accused victim of the system. They are still human and worthy of just treatment, but not “innocent.”

? December 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm

*There are exceedingly few (read, almost none) people in jail who did not commit the offense with which they are charged.*


3-5% is one estimate of those sitting in jail but innocent

Timmy December 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm

If your female “friend” who calls this ministry “ridiculous” would spend less time blowing and screwing legislators/married political operatives, maybe she’d have more time to study up on what charity REALLY means.

Tom December 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Kathryn Dennis does not need to study up on anything…DON’T YOU KNOW WHO SHE IS?!?! and I’m no expert but I don’t think they teach you how to read in rehab…

BOZBORING December 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm

They already get food and shelter for free, we’re supposed to give them toys too?

toyota kawaski December 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm

check out a wonderful Prison Ministy that im a part of at McCormick Prison but is located in most all SC Prisons as well as 45 states and 12 nations called Kairos.

9" December 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm

The real criminals are,Southern Baptists,pushing political agendas without paying taxes..

Mike December 5, 2012 at 6:06 pm

This is a ministry that the SCBC has been doing for 20 years. This year over 24,000 bags were donated. There is a set group of items that must be in every bag, no more, no less. They certainly aren’t toys. The items are:

A booklet about the meaning of Christmas
A Christmas card
A bar of soap
A toothbrush
2 rolls of mints or lifesavers
A notepad
A black pen
5 stamped envelopes

And all of this is donations. There are no taxpayer funds going to this. So what business is it of people like BOZBORING, how private individuals choose to participate in charity?

Knee High A-My December 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Will Folks learned in Sunday School that Joseph was one heck of a tennis player ’cause he served in Pharoah’s Court. He also learned that I was the shortest guy in the Bible- Knee High A-mya.

Most of all he learned that the disciples drove around in a Honda ’cause they all came in one Accord.

This is truly what he learned ’cause his current fruits don’t match the Good Book’s teachings. God Bless you my son — he still luvs you, Cuz.

NervousNeuron December 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm

people of the Muslim faith are already in all of our prisons working diligently to convert undecided minds to a faith in allah. many times it is pitched with a strong bias against this nation. if we are content to be weak minded, chicken hearted, part time, Jesus lovers, ignoring these peoples souls, we might just find those souls turned violently against us one day soon.

Jock Stender, Charleston December 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I helped a fellow Christian several years ago when he was released from a state prison after spending 23 years there. Let’s call him Albert.

I bought Albert a decent (properly fitting, comfortable) pair of shoes, some properly-fitting pants, some shirts, a pair of glasses (cost a fortune), a map of Charleston, a compass, and helped him get his drivers license. Helped him get a job (he works three jobs), get his medications, took him to the E.R. when his blood sugar went to zero and he almost died. And on and on. He’s doing fine now — an extraordinary, honest, hard-working, thankful, kind, forgiving and thoughtful person who became a Christian in prison. If he makes one slip — maybe even a misdemeanor — he knows he goes back for life.

Regarding Christians and the prison ministry: Albert read his bible in his cell and participated in a bible study there. The visits from prison ministry people helped him maintain his sanity and his faith. Not all prisoners respect the Christians among their brethren and accuse them of feigning their belief in order to see visitors and have cookies.

One day some of Albert’s fellow prisoners denounced his profound faith in Christ and beat him into a coma, breaking his nose, the bones around his nose and the bone around his eye socket, partially blinding him in one eye, and breaking one eardrum to the point he is deaf in that ear. He needs special glasses because his eyes are now “askew.” And hearing aids in both ears.

Albert spent months in the prison hospital and when transferred back to his old cell he was threatened again with beatings. Only his faith, the prison ministry people, and a kind Christian nurse in the medical ward saved him. The nurse persuaded a psychiatrist that Albert was trapped and wouldn’t survive another beating, and should be admitted to the psychiatric wing for his own protection. Thank God, that request was granted, and Albert spent his remaining eight years there.

Jack McGovern, Tom Bullock, Willie Campbell and other volunteers of His Way Ministry on Johns Island (http://hiswaysc.org/contact/contact.html) minister to and help those poor souls in prison and, for those so fortunate, after their release from prison.

I’ve been trying to join Jack’s group for months but he says the S.C. prison system is so short-handed that visits are hamstrung, set at an inflexible day and hour, and vetting new visitors takes a long, long time (many months).

My parents and many of their Christian friends were for decades “prison ministers” and said that it was one of the most fulfilling, Christlike activities they ever did.

In Charleston, Sheriff Al Cannon has poured cold water on the most important prison ministry at the huge new jail that bears his name, on Leeds Avenue. He got into an altercation with a Catholic priest who dared to offer Communion — even with grape juice — to prisoners. Sheriff Cannon’s staffer who coordinates the prison ministry efforts does not return phone calls or process vetting requests.

If anyone reading this would like to do a good deed, forward this blog post to members of the S.C. Senate Committee on Corrections and Penology with the request that more time, room and flexibility be given to prison ministry volunteers. Many people cannot volunteer because of the restrictions and constraints existing in the state’s prisons.

Jock Stender, Charleston

Senate Corrections and Penology Committee

Michael L. Fair, Chairman
Robert Ford
Clementa C. Pinckney
Kent M. Williams
Paul G. Campbell, Jr.
A. Shane Massey
George E. “Chip” Campsen, III
Creighton B. Coleman
Shane R. Martin
Floyd Nicholson
John L. Scott, Jr.
Chauncey K. Gregory
5 Vacancies

marty December 8, 2012 at 6:36 am

You do realize what a strong presence the muslim faith has in our prison facilities right?
Christians need to be ” in there”, for a lot of reasons.


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