Beyond the Prison Walls

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

John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, began visitingprisoners in 1730, making work in prisons the very first expressionof Methodist chaplaincy. Their chaplaincy tradition is continuedtoday by 53 Methodist prison chaplains in 57 prisons.

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

An ecumenical Prisons Week Committee was formed in 1975 toencourage Christians to focus their thoughts and prayers, uponprisoners and their families, victims of offenders, prison staffand all those working for prisoners and their families. Accordingto the organizers of Prisons Week, there are around 20,000 youngpeople in prison today, and approximately 65,000adults. 

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