Welcoming Ex-Prisoners to Church
A new directory of religious groups is being produced for those leaving prison. Brian Edwards, who served as President of FIEC in the late 1990s, is keen for as many of our churches as possible to feature in it.
The mission of Christian Prison Resourcing (CPR) is to partner with churches and Chaplains to see prisoners’ lives transformed, their relationships restored, and their communities rebuilt as they understand the good news of Jesus Christ.
We do this through expository biblical training on the inside, to prepare prisoners for life on the outside.
Since 2010, under our Director of Ministry David Fortune (a member of Coldharbour Evangelical Free Church in Eltham), CPR has sixty Staff and Associates visiting our prisons every week.
Of the one hundred and twenty-eight Prisons, Immigration Removal Centres and Youth Offenders Institutions in England and Wales holding over 82,000 detainees, we have a presence, either through Preaching, Bible Studies or Correspondence Courses, in seventy-six – some 60% of the total.
CPR’s mission is to inspire prisoners, by resourcing them with Christian books and CDs, correspondence courses and in-cell studies, to encounter Christian hope for themselves through the Bible and so rebuild their lives for long-term resettlement.
Some of our students have completed good quality theological courses and others have benefited greatly from CPR courses such as anger management, responsible finance and quality marriage.
I was encouraged to read of the work of Daylight in the Spring edition of Together magazine. We consider them a sister ministry so that we can help fill each other’s gaps.
Adjusting to Life
However, helping former prisoners to settle into life outside prison is always the most challenging part of the ministry. A prisoner returning to the community is vulnerable to the influences that brought him or her there in the first place.
Criminological research has shown that the support of a good faith community can substantially reduce the chances of re-offending. A wide network of Bible-believing churches that will understand and care for these people will ensure that they can grow in the Christian faith and serve the Saviour well in the community.
So what can you do?
The prison service is encouraging the production of an on-line ‘yellow pages’ of churches and groups of all religions that are willing to welcome people leaving prison. Prison Chaplains will have this Welcome Directory as their primary reference when helping prisoners, who have engaged with Chaplaincy during their time in prison, to find supportive faith communities after release.
CPR is encouraging as many FIEC churches as possible to register — or else the evangelical faith may well be by-passed. To request registration simply visit welcomedirectory.org.uk/register
In addition to the on-line directory, the Prison Service will be publishing a hard-copy version with the first edition planned for in October this year. The deadline for inclusion in this edition is 31 July 2019.
Will you welcome these ex-residents of HMP? I would encourage your church to register with the Welcome Directory to take hold of this opportunity.