The Prison Ministry Committee (PMC) understands that our ministry is at a crossroads. Methods used to deliver the gospel to inmates are changing. Inmates are communicating less frequently via US Mail. More inmates are being given access to electronic communication (similar to e-mail) as well as other services such as book or music downloads to tablets that the inmates own. Our ministry needs to adapt to this new environment. Frequent opportunities to share Law and Gospel with many more inmates nationwide are available if we can adapt our efforts to this new reality.
Produce devotions that support outreach to people with little if any biblical knowledge.
- Implement a system for distributing the devotions using electronic messaging services to inmates, such as JPay.com, GTL.net or CorrLinks.com (annual cost/inmate is $30-$120)
- Test and implement a system using electronic messaging services to collect Bible study tests, return corrected tests, and exchange pen pal letters with inmates.
- These opportunities will take an investment of both time and financial resources to develop. While we are seeking grant money from foundations to help, in the long term, individual designated gifts still form the backbone of our support. Your gifts are greatly encouraged and appreciated.
Finally, the WELS convention in July passed a resolution directing WELS to seek to fund a larger portion of WELS Prison Ministry from regular operating funds (Congregation Mission Offerings). This resolution does not guarantee more synodical funding for our work. It starts a process of discussion with the Synodical Council (SC), which oversees all synod spending and must approve any increase in support. The SC will give us an opportunity, probably in November, to make the case for increased support from the synodical budget or other sources. The SC could reduce support of some other ministry to fund prison ministry, find some other way to help, or decline to increase our support.
With changes in the environment of our ministry, we are grateful that the Lord continues to provide generous gifts from donors and organizations to meet the new opportunities for outreach right now. Only Jesus knows whether we will receive a future increase in budgetary funding, but it’s his ministry. We are excited and press on with the work!
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