“I want people to know that I have hope in a God who can redeem brokenness.” And she should know. Rev. Lynn Litchfield, GraceInside’s Director of Development, had a front row seat to some of the most amazing transformations Christ made possible while serving as chaplain to Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. As the original (and sole) Chaplain to Virginia’s maximum-security women’s prison for 11.5 years, well over 15,000 women cycled through FCCW where they had the opportunity to participate in the most developed religious program in any state penal institution.
For six of those years, Lynn also served the lone woman on death row, Teresa Lewis, and advocated for her care even after ceasing her job at FCCW. During this trying time, Rev. Litchfield was very involved in media interviews – even internationally. Published in Newsweek, The Guardian and Ethics Daily, Lynn enjoys writing and sharing her thoughts where faith and life intersect. Her advocacy put her in demand as a speaker on human rights and faith.
But the brokenness of prison environments isn’t her only experience – nor perhaps her most significant. Lynn’s work for “the least of these” was interrupted by a personal tragedy, the death of her beautiful and precocious ten-year-old daughter, Alyssa. After a 22-month battle, Alyssa died from osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, on New Year’s Eve, 2012. Lynn has shared, “The death of my precious and exquisite Alyssa – and my journey as a bereaved mother – know no equal in my brokenness. But even from a place of incomparable sorrow, I hold on to hope in a God who believes in me even when I can’t believe in myself.”
And Lynn goes on to share, “Isn’t this the message of GraceInside? A Christ who loves those who might proclaim themselves unlovable? God says to those who have been discarded by society, ‘You matter!’” From there, Lynn believes, healing can begin.
Several months after Alyssa’s death, Lynn returned to work for GraceInside, hoping to raise awareness of this vital ministry that has been all too often “out of sight, out of mind.” When not working for GraceInside, she teaches classical and liturgical dancing. Lynn cherishes time with her surviving daughter, Alexa (a pediatric cancer research fundraiser in her own right), now 11, and their family which includes three cats, one giant rabbit and a deaf dog named Loki.
A graduate of University of Mary Washington and of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Lynn was ordained by River Road Church, Baptist of Richmond, Virginia. In 2010, her ordination was formally recognized by the United Church of Christ (UCC) as well. A dynamic speaker and conference leader, she puts her background in performing arts to good use. Her character, Hope, has been widely acclaimed as a powerful educational tool for GraceInside. If you haven’t heard Hope’s story, grab your tissues and check out the video on our site. Then, invite her to speak at your church or organization. Lynn, you give us “Hope” in more ways than one!