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Prison Ministry

Christmas Dinner at Riverbend

Crucial Time Prison Ministry Video

The Prison Ministry at Christ United Methodist Church was formed to support the spiritual decisions made by the incarcerated. We feel it is the crucial time to come together in communion, respect, love and compassion. These experiences bind us into the community God wants for all. Even though prison inmates present practical and moral problems for our society, we are called to remember the parable of Jesus in which he tells his followers that visiting prisoners is indicative of a right relationship with God. To find out more, please call the church office at 615.790.2112 or email us.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the recidivism rate for Tennessee prisoners released is 46% greater for the first 36 months of release. Why do nearly half of the inmates return to prison? The reasons are well documented:

  • No supporting family or community while incarcerated.
  • No guidance during incarceration.
  • Lack of viable housing opportunities upon release.
  • No meaningful employment after release.
  • Drug addiction and alcoholism – an especially critical problem.
  • Absence of any community support and accountability after release.
  • Profound and undiagnosed psychosocial illness.

Programs presently in place at Christ UMC to establish community within prison:

  • Weekly Sunday Communion Service: Involving seven ministers, three from Christ UMC and four from other UMC congregations around the Nashville area, these services have about 50 men in attendance along with church volunteers.
  • Pen Pals: Many Christ UMC church members connect with prisoners through letters and cards. This provides communication between the inside and outside worlds for better understanding of each, an opportunity for a new perspective, producing an expanding community.
  • Parole Hearings: Attendance and presentations at parole hearings for the prisoners with whom we have a relationship. This shows support for inmates who are involved in our ministry.
  • Holiday Dinner: For over a decade, Christ UMC has hosted an annual holiday dinner, offering a meaningful celebration of Thanksgiving and the birth of Jesus Christ. With partner churches, about 100 volunteers serve a catered dinner for the approximately 350 men who live in units 5 & 6. We enjoy visiting and singing together and the men look forward to it all year long!
  • Free Greeting Cards: Each inmate receives a box of Christmas cards, and if available, a box of everyday greeting cards. This promote interaction and connection to family and friends outside the prison community.

Release Programs presently in place for re-entry into the community outside of prison:

  • Job Assistance: Job search begins prior to release and continues until an individual is placed in an appropriate job.
  • Transportation options: For the first 30 days, a bus pass is provided. Assistance is given to obtain a valid driver’s license. Our mentors often help transport the men upon release to their living plan.
  • Mentor/Resource Coordinator: A Mentor (usually the “inside” mentor) is paired with each person prior to release. The Mentor’s primary role is personal and financial guidance, coordinating resources needed by the individual to reach their new life goals. Outside, the Mentors for prisoners transitioning from incarceration to an outside community show mutual respect, love, guidance, acceptance and accountability without shame. Mentors strive to empower the individual to make positive choices for their spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental health needs. This is done by encouraging the individual to participate in community service, join a church, synagogue or mosque of their choice, and to join in clubs or associations that match the individuals’ interests. Working collaboratively with other faith groups, community groups and government agencies, we assist mentors with the resources they need and provide direction, through training, practical and emotional support.