How To Be A Prison Minister
Prisons often have a thoroughly negative reputation. People believe they are full of murderous individuals who are beyond help, who are there solely to be punished. This is not true. Prisons are first and foremost institutions that were created to reform individuals that broke the law, not to inflict pain and suffering. Because of this, prison systems tend to not only tolerate religion but generally encourage it amongst inmates as well. The basis of every major religion has always been to show individuals how to live a moral life, which is in line with the prison system’s wish to reform its members. This is why prison ministries are often given the chance – and in many cases encouraged – to speak with inmates.
What Can Prison Ministers Do?
Prison ministries can provide important services to the prison community. Many prisoners have deep personal problems stemming from their time in prison. Some may be struggling to cope with having their freedom taken away from them. They may feel helpless or even hopeless about their lives. Some prisoners may be struggling with real feelings of guilt and regret for what they have done. Some prisoners may see a need to change their lives and may simply want to learn about religion in order to see if it is for them. A prison minister can help prisoners with all of these problems. Prison ministers can also speak with those on death row. Inmates who are facing the end of their lives often need help dealing with this fact. They want and need strength, comfort and forgiveness. Prison ministers can also speak with family members who are struggling to accept that their loved ones have been incarcerated, and even guards who may have a tough time working amongst a population with violent and dangerous backgrounds.
How Can I Become a Prison Minister
It usually takes years of studying and training at seminary school to be a minister. After receiving the necessary training, the individual must then be ordained by the church. Those that wish to provide religious guidance of any kind to individuals who are imprisoned can be ordained online through the Universal Life Church. The ULC allows individuals from any sex, religion, race or any other background to be ordained. This service allows prisoners to receive the guidance that they seek from those who are willing to offer it. The service provided by the ULC also allows prisoners themselves to become ordained. Many prisoners find religion while incarcerated. Many of these prisoners will want to share their experiences and faith with the rest of the prison system. Allowing them to get ordained gives them a chance to change the prison culture for the better. Helping to reform other prisoners can often be done much more easily from the inside than from the outside as a minister who is also a prisoner can relate much more with the other inmates.
Why should ULC Ministers Work In A Prison Ministry
The Universal Life Church ordination is special in that those who become ordained online through it are able to perform truly meaningful work for men and women who are in desperate need of spiritual and life counseling. Most people who become a minister through the ULC do so to perform marriage ceremonies, but we earnestly hope that more of our ministers choose to join prison ministries in the future so our online ministry can collectively provide an incredibly valuable service to the prison community.
Prison Ministry Resources
Follow the links below to learn more about prison ministries or how to get involved with them.
International Network of Prison Ministries – Perhaps the best resource an inexperienced minister could ask for. Allows easy communication between prison ministers, web services to help its members set up their own prison ministry websites, new ministers to request a visit with an inmate, and a plethora of prison ministry supplies and educational materials.
Prison Fellowship – A prison ministry which focuses on counseling prisoners’ families in addition to the prisoners themselves.