In mid-June, the annual assembly of the ELCA Metropolitan Synod convened at the Tinley Park Convention Center. We led a workshop intended to invite and equip other local congregations to participate in prison and re-entry ministry. We also hosted a booth, distributing our Spiritual Survival Guide For Prison & Beyond and “RED Chicago” to attendees.
Participating in this year’s assembly was particularly special for us, because it was this same convening in 2012 that would turn out to be the birthplace of our Inside-Out Connections Ministry! It was exciting to return, to share what we’ve learned and reflect on the ways we’ve grown in the last four years. Praise be to God for His faithfulness and provision!
We were in Atlanta, Georgia, in May for the fourth-annual Correctional Ministry & Chaplains Association (CMCA) Summit! We enjoyed seeing familiar faces (above photo of Program Director Ben Blobaum with George Salter of Westside Health Authority) and meeting new ministry partners. We shared our vision and resources, and we learned from others in the field. We’ve attended this Summit for the past four years, and each year it has been a powerful experience, uniting us with hundreds of men and women who have discovered the privilege and the joy of working with prisoners.
September 9-11, the Coalition Of Prison Evangelists (COPE) hosted an international conference in Indianapolis, attended by our Program Director, Ben Blobaum. Ben distributed free copies of our Spiritual Survival Guide and samples of “RED Chicago” to attendees. Domestic as well as international connections were made, and cases of our Spiritual Survival Guide are currently en route to Canada and Ghana! In the photo above, Ben is pictured with Osofo Kwadwo, founder of a school for prison ministry in Ghana. The three-day conference provided opportunities for learning, networking, and mutual encouragement amongst participants.
The last week of May, our staff and lead volunteer attended the third annual CMCA (Correctional Ministry & Chaplains Association) Summit, a three-day conference, at Wheaton College. We reserved a booth and distributed free copies of our resources, and Executive Director, Fred Nelson, led a workshop on congregation-based re-entry ministry. For all, the Summit was a time of learning, networking, and fellowship.
In mid-February, Program Director, Ben Blobaum, launched a weekly Bible study in the Minimum Security Unit (MSU) at Stateville Prison. Beyond meeting the spiritual needs of inmates in the MSU, our hope is that these weekly meetings will bridge a post-release connection with our ex-offender ministry.
Our next Stateville Prison Team opportunity is scheduled for Sunday, May 17. Come and help be part of a team that prays with newly-convicted inmates and distributes copies of the Bible and the Spiritual Survival Gide for Prison and Beyond. We have to have our paperwork in early with the prison, so contact our Program Director, Ben Blobaum, now if you want to be able to go in May.
Our Program Director, Ben Blobaum, will be attending a series of Illinois Department of Corrections Re-Entry Summits at a number of downstate Illinois prisons in October, building a network of relationships with prison re-entry staff, other service providers, and inmates who are within 6 months of their parole date. Please keep Ben in your prayers.
Our Spiritual Survival Guide got a nice front-section mention in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune about hospice programs that are running inside Illinois prisons. It was encouraging to see that our book is a prominent part of their hospice library! For a link to the Tribune article, click here.
Our Executive Director, Fred Nelson, will be presenting a workshop at the annual Correctional Ministry and Chaplains Association (CMCA) Summit next June at Wheaton College. He’ll be presenting on “A New Model for Church-Based Ex-Offender Ministry.”