Expanded Emphasis on Prison Ministry in Arkansas

From the Rev. Dr.  Keith Hearnsberger, transitional deacon at St. Michael’s Church in Little Rock

There are over 17,000 people incarcerated in over 20 different Arkansas Department of Corrections and Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities across the state. In 2019, as I prepared for ordination as a priest, I was among them for 102 days, following a car accident. While in prison, I saw firsthand the ongoing need for a comprehensive Episcopal  prison ministry in this state. Incarcerated people need our church. Incarcerated people need someone to be present with them on their journeys. Incarcerated people need hope for their future, whether it will be a future in prison or outside prison after release. Thus, with the support of the bishop, I, along with other Episcopalians, want to begin an increased level of work among people incarcerated in Arkansas.

We Episcopalians have a history of good work among the imprisoned. This work has included Exodus for Life, Kairos, The Storybook Project, the Prison Story Project, and Pathways to Freedom, Inc. All of these programs are wonderfully organized and are supported by many dedicated Episcopalians. The next step is to coordinate and expand our efforts. We need both lay people and members of the clergy to help. One of the first steps is to gather information. Please take time to complete this short survey, which should take no longer than 10 minutes. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DYT8M7C

At this pivotal moment in our world today, people who may not look, act, or think like most of us need us, and we need them. This expanded ministry is another step we can take in the direction of committing ourselves to lives of unconditional love, social justice, and sharing our call to see and serve Christ in all persons.

Contact Keith at keifus921@yahoo.com.