How does Gethsemane introduce itself to people in prison?
Project Connect is the church’s network with men and women in prison throughout New York State. Inmates are motivated to contact the church after they have read the newsletter, Liberation Voices, or by encouragement from fellow inmates who have already made a connection with the church.
Members of Gethsemane write to every person who sends the church a letter from prison. Some of those relationships carry on for years, even decades.
There are currently 125+ members of Project Connect who receive monthly correspondence from the congregation, food packages and visits. Congregational members who wish to visit the prisons are trained and accompany staff when visiting people in prison.
Many prisoners ask to participate in the church’s membership correspondence course. Also, upon request the church contacts family members for Project Connect members.
When a Project Connect member has a scheduled parole board hearing, the church sends a Letter to the Parole Board to support their release. When they are released, they are invited to participate in Project Connect’s Peer Support group and are given the necessary referrals to support their transition to society.
At The Church of Gethsemane people who have been in prison do not have to hide that part of their life. They can share as much or as little about that experience as they choose. They know there are people in the pews on Sunday that have been inside, or who have a family member or loved one who is inside now.
And they know there are people in the pews that haven’t been in prison, but who have chosen to be in ministry with the poor, the imprisoned, and the marginalized.