Registration opens Feb. 1 for an April 30-May 1 first-time conference in St. Louis that organizers say they hope will be the catalyst for a network of those involved in any type of prison ministry in the Synod and will lead to training others for such ministry.
Sponsors of the conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Lambert-St. Louis International Airport are LCMS World Relief/Human Care and the Southern Illinois District.
With funding from World Relief/Human Care and a grant from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, the conference will have a registration fee of $50 per participant, to cover all on-site costs including housing for April 30.
Rev. Jeffery Nehrt, pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Greenville, Ill., and a member of the conference planning committee, said that registration will be limited and on a first-come/first-served basis.
He said that a conference registration brochure is being sent to “a good number” of those in prison ministry in the Synod and to LCMS district offices. The brochure also is being prepared for downloading from the World Relief/Human Care Web site, http://worldrelief.lcms.org.
March 1 is the registration deadline.
Nehrt, who has been involved in prison ministry in Southern Illinois for the past 10 years, was featured in a five-minute video promoting prison ministry at the 2001 Synod convention in St. Louis. That convention overwhelmingly passed a resolution (980 to 2) encouraging “continued emphasis on prison and jail ministry” in the Synod.
Nehrt said that the conference would feature plenary and workshop presentations aimed at “networking and equipping,” along with “brainstorming ideas about how we can be most effective in coordinating prison ministry.”
“First,” he said, “we want to create a network that will make everyone who is involved in any type of prison or jail ministry aware of all others who are involved in the same type of ministry in the LCMS.
“And we also want to expose attendees to the various types of prison or jail ministry being conducted around the Synod,” Nehrt continued, “so that they can be better equipped to determine what types of prison ministry would be most effective in their communities.”
“There are all kinds of approaches to prison ministry in our Synod, and we hope the conference can lead to some type of cohesion to these approaches,” Nehrt said. “Many are doing something on their own without … training … and would like to do better,” he said.
Nehrt said that prison ministry “runs the gamut” from conducting Bible studies and chapel services, one-on-one counseling, and specialized men and women’s ministries, to work among those currently incarcerated or with ex-offenders, families, victims of crime and with correctional and police officers.
Posted Dec. 27, 2004