The Rev. Dr. Ken Klaus, speaker emeritus of “The Lutheran Hour” radio program, will be the keynote speaker at the second synodwide “Training and Equipping Conference for Prison and Jail Ministry” to be held Sept. 29-30 in St. Louis, at the Crowne Plaza: St. Louis Airport hotel.
The conference, according to the Rev. John Fale, interim co-executive director of the LCMS Office of International Mission, is designed to acquaint individuals (pastors and laity) or congregations that desire or are doing prison and jail ministry “with proven models of pastoral and lay prison and jail visitation and to equip them to return to their districts to train others interested in establishing or supporting visitation programs.”
The scheduling and planning of the conference is in response to Res. 6-05, “To Encourage Continued Emphasis on Prison and Jail Ministry,” that delegates passed overwhelmingly at the 2010 LCMS Regular Convention.
One of that resolution’s resolves states in part “that the Synod sponsor another synodwide prison and jail ministry conference prior to the next LCMS convention.” The first synodwide training and equipping conference for prison and jail ministry was held in 2005, hosted by LCMS World Relief and Human Care and the Southern Illinois District (SID) with a grant from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML). The LWML has provided another grant for the upcoming conference, which the SID has offered to plan and host.
Another resolve of Res. 6-05 states, “that the Synod encourage all districts to have a prison ministry coordinator, either volunteer or compensated, for the purpose of networking, supporting and encouraging prison ministry among the districts of Synod.”
The SID has offered to coordinate networking among district ministry coordinators, according to Fale. Each district is asked to submit the name and contact information of its district prison ministry coordinator to SID Schools and General Executive Roger Sprengel at email@example.com.
That district has been involved with prison ministries since 1902. Over the last 35 years, it has become an integral part of the district’s mission and has grown to include more than 20 state and federal prisons and five county jails involving more than 35 pastors, church workers and laity.
“What each prison ministry does varies from institution to institution,” said the Rev. Jeffery Nehrt, assistant coordinator for the SID’s Prison Ministry and pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Greenville, Ill. “The one thing they all do is provide mission and ministry faithfully through Word and Sacraments.”
The grant from the LWML will enable participants to attend the two-day conference for a registration fee of $100 that includes one night of lodging, meals and a conference packet. Transportation costs and additional nights of lodging will be the responsibility of the participant.
In a letter sent to all district presidents in October, Fale asks that each district board of directors give consideration to budgeting for scholarships to allow one to three people from each district to attend this conference.
“In any given year there are more people in the United States who are incarcerated in our jails and prisons than there are in hospitals,” he said. “When a local congregation and its pastor care for the souls of those who are incarcerated and their families through Word and Sacrament ministry, through personal visitation and as a point of contact with a caring community, they bring a very tangible expression of the love of God in Christ Jesus to those who may never have known what a blessing genuine love is.”
For more information about the conference, contact Nehrt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-292-4392. Conference details and a registration form will be available at www.sidlcms.org/prisonministry.aspx in March.
Posted Feb. 9, 2012