Archive for December, 2011

Social Justice Sunday

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

The next one will be January 8.  All of Sojourners Social Justice groups are encouraged to meet after the service. If you’re new to the church, or simply haven’t attended any of these meetings yet, please feel free to drop in on one (or more!) that day.

Meaningful Experiences with People in Prison

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

What follows is the last of the reflections shared by Sojourners at our Prison Ministry Social Justice worship service in the fall.

#1- When it was found out that I was pregnant they transferred me to the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. I was no longer allowed to work (due to DOC’s fear of the pending lawsuit and anything else happening to me) which meant that I was unable to buy food. Being pregnant and not having food is a scary and painful situation to find oneself in. It had been about six years since I resided at this facility. I didn’t know any of the other women. And was apprehensive due to everything that was going on and all of the horrible things that were being said. So, I just tried to ignore our hunger. Well, eventually, I met a group of women that were beyond wonderful. They were kind and supportive and genuinely interested in mine and Desiree’s well being. So, one canteen day, they went (without my knowledge) cell door to cell door asking people for food. They then brought me a canteen bag full of food and a large trash bag full of food. Free of charge and no strings attached. They just wanted me to be able to eat. And I ate off of that gift for about two months.

#2- I knew of Lynn Litchfield (Chaplain Litchfield) back in 1999 when FCCW first opened. I didn’t see her again until the end of 2005. I was terrified of the position that I was in. And finally needed someone to talk to. I asked to see her. When I walked into her office and sat down I asked her if she remembered me or knew who I was. She said “no.” She told me that she didn’t watch tv or read the newspaper. Needless to say, I was so grateful for that. I spent five months speaking with her and going to church. She was the one that introduced me to Karen and Jeanine, the village, and Sojourners. Through one of most uncertain, scary, and painful times in my life she became my best friend. She was in the operating room with me when Desiree was born.(Desiree calls her “Aunt Lynn.”) And that is something that neither one of us will ever forget. She was always so genuinely caring, sincere, honest, and just amazing.

#3- This last story doesn’t really involve any one particular person or event. It is just an overall memory… When I first went to prison I was scared that it would be like the prisons that you see on tv. It’s not really that way at all. Sure there are mean people. But, for the most part its just people like you and me. One thing that I learned while in there was how to relate and really feel what the next person is going through. To empathize and humanize. These women are someones’ daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, best friend, and mother. There were numerous nights when the roommate that I had at the time and I would stay up all night just talking and healing. Just trying to figure things out, move on, and make a plan to keep ourselves from ever coming back.There were many times when the spades game gave way to someone’s loneliness and heartbreak. We would just stop what we were doing and be there for that friend. For as long as they needed. That was one nice thing about being in there…there was no telephone ringing, no errands to run, no urgency in anything.We had the time to just listen.I can honestly say that I have met and lived with some of the absolute best women in the world behind bars. And there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss and think about those friends that I left almost five years ago.

Thank you for letting me share some of these with you.

Sheron Sinclair

 

 

Passionate Ministries

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

The following is from a volunteer at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women shared with the congregation during our Prison Ministry Social Justice service in late October.

How do you live to be 100 years old? Dr. Phil had a one-word answer in the discussion that followed, “Passion.” Work with the incarcerated can quickly become a passion.

My passions involve challenges. I had known nothing of prison work. Even when my daughter went into prison work, I went, “What? What is all this!”

The challenge of it motivates me to prayer, serious prayer. It has lead me to use many of the ideas I find in the worship here, to use them in the Sunday night prison worship service, ideas from the morning worship bulletin as well as ideas from the sermons. It leads me to a closer fellowship with other Sojourners, even sojourners with a small “s.”

I prayed to broaden and deepen my scope of preparation for my prison work, prepare in every way possible. I pray on the way to the prison. When I arrive, pray some more to know what part of the preparation to employ, and even to give up all the preparation for the needs of the moment.

The passion also involves rewards. The rewards are many as one gets glimpses of God’s work in the lives of others and as one finds a challenge of spiritual growth in one’s own life.

I live with the challenge from an incarcerated woman whom I visited in the infirmary just after she had come back from the hospital having had major surgery. The doctors had ordered her to walk the hall twice daily. The officer on duty was required to permit her out of her cell for this purpose each day. Day after day the officer for the infirmary refused to allow her to follow those doctor’s orders. It could have eased her recovery. Day after day she sat in her cell and prayed about her predicament.

Then she remembered that she had been in the military herself. Through prayer she took a new attitude toward that unreasonable and unfair officer. She concluded, “I could have been that officer!” She gave me a fresh understanding for, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

I thoroughly appreciate being here among all the lay ministers. You have so many ministries, so many passions here. This church embodies and emboldens passionate ministries. Thank you for your passionate ministries.

Sarah Litchfield