This month our new Canon to the Ordinary, the Rev. Betsy Randall had the opportunity to travel to a few prisons around the state to check out our thriving Episcopal ministries. She was accompanied by long time prison ministry volunteer Deacon Linda Paul. Canon Betsy shared with us her story of hope and vitality in two Oklahoma Prisons, read her story below.
Written by Canon Betsy Randall:
"Excuse me, ma'am! Does God dream?" A young woman raised her hand high above her head, waving it in the air as she asked her question. It was after the passing of the Peace at Eddie Warrior Women's Correctional Center in Taft. Over fifty women had gathered for worship. Deacon Linda Paul invited the congregation to ask questions."Yes," I answered, "You are God's dream, and you are fearfully and marvelously made." Her smile was a gift I will never forget. There were other questions, most of them deeply theological. I was humbled by the congregation's desire to explore the mystery of God and by the joy with which the Sacrament was received. There was a lot of energy in that room. Deacon Linda told me later that she enjoyed the look on my face when I saw the line for healing Unction. The tone was more contemplative at the St. Patrick's community at Jess Dunn Men's Correctional Center in Taft. There were just over thirty in attendance. There were seasoned members there who enjoyed guiding visitors through the Eucharistic liturgy. I was touched by the prayer requests that revealed their love and concern for one another. At the end of the service, a man told me, "I am new tonight. I want to be a member. This service felt holy."In a note of thanks, a St. Patrick's community member explained the importance of the regular volunteers who make the Episcopal ministry possible: "The call of evil I found in prison is shockingly loud. Therefore, the invitation to newness of life that Jesus offers must be consistently proclaimed. I am one person who experienced this faithful love of Christ consistently offered through St. Patrick's community, and it made all the difference."
I left the evening with gratitude for God's love shared with us by those in prison and the faithful deacons and lay leaders who serve them weekly in our diocese. If you would like to find out more about serving in prison ministry, contact our Diocesan Prison Missioner the Rev. Nancy Brock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
924 N. Robinson I Oklahoma City, OK 73102
email@example.comHours: 9 am to 5 pm CST