Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Prison Chaplaincy

This summer I have had the wonderful privilege of being placed with the Division of Prisons through the North Carolina Department of Correction. My initial contact was through Chaplain Betty Brown, Director of Chaplaincy Services, and after hearing about my particular passions and interests in ministry, Chaplain Brown placed me at the Raleigh Correctional Center for Women (RCCW).


Chaplaincy services at RCCW are provided by Presbyterian Prison Ministry (PPM) in a building on the prison grounds called the Hope Center for Worship and Education (donated by White Memorial Presbyterian Church in 2001). The executive director of PPM is Rev. Caroline Craig Proctor. Rev. Proctor is my direct supervisor, and I have found her to be a wise, insightful, and caring minister. My supervision time with her has been one of my favorite parts of my field education. Chaplain Nathaniel Boykin is the primary chaplain on the grounds at RCCW, and he has a deep care for the women there. He has been very generous in sharing his wisdom with me this summer and helping to make my time at the prison meaningful.

Rev. Caroline Craig Proctor

Chaplain Nathaniel Boykin and his wife, Gwen

For quite a while now, I have felt called into the ministry of chaplaincy, but until this past year, I had never considered prison chaplaincy. For whatever reason, I had not heard much about this type of ministry. And while I was attuned to the needs of the hungry, thirsty, naked, and sick people that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25, I often overlooked the part that says "I was in prison and you visited me." What is interesting is that many of the homeless people that I met last summer during my field education with HomeStar Fellowship were people who had not successfully transitioned from prison to society. We as the church must not overlook prisoners. We must embrace and care for least of these as we would embrace and care for Jesus. I am grateful for the opportunity to explore the possibility of prison ministry being a part of my call to chaplaincy.