21 November 2013

Beyond the Prison Walls

The President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Ruth Gee, has sent her support to Methodist prison chaplains during Prisons Week.

John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, began visiting prisoners in 1730, making work in prisons the very first expression of Methodist chaplaincy. Their chaplaincy tradition is continued today by 53 Methodist prison chaplains in 57 prisons.

In her letter, the Revd Ruth Gee told chaplains: "The Prison Service is going through many changes at the present time with pressures on resources, staff and inmates. This may make your work more difficult but it also emphasises just how valuable it is for the Prison Service. Your presence in the prison is a sign of hope for everyone there - and a continual reminder that beyond the prison walls the Christian community remembers and prays for prisons. Above all you are a reminder of that length, breadth, height and depth of God's love which can be known everywhere and anywhere."

An ecumenical Prisons Week Committee was formed in 1975 to encourage Christians to focus their thoughts and prayers, upon prisoners and their families, victims of offenders, prison staff and all those working for prisoners and their families. According to the organizers of Prisons Week, there are around 20,000 young people in prison today, and approximately 65,000 adults. 

Stan Brown, Church and Community Development Officer (chaplaincy), said: "Methodist prison chaplains and their colleagues work at the cutting edge of our pastoral care and mission. Prisons Week is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to show our support and pray for this work which so few of us actually see."

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