GraceInside has been around since 1920. What a journey – to provide Chaplains for and to minister to literally thousands of incarcerated men and women in Virginia’s state prisons over the years!
GraceInside’s original name was “The Interdenominational Religious Work Foundation.” After several decades, the name was changed to “Chaplain Service of the Churches of Virginia, Inc.” (or simply “Chaplain Service”, as we were called for many, many years). For a brief time the name changed to “Chaplain Service Prison Ministry of Virginia, Inc.” After starting out in offices in several locations downtown and in The Fan District, the ministry had its headquarters for many years in a tiny office in The Westwood Building on Westwood Avenue in Richmond. In 2013, Chaplain Service began renting a small office space on the second floor of The Virginia Baptist Resource Center (headquarters of the Baptist General Association of Virginia – BGAV), moving a few years later to a small suite of offices on the first floor of that building (where it still remains).
The name of the ministry was changed to “GraceInside” in 2014.
John R. (“Randy”) Myers was born into a “corrections family” – with both parents working at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women in Goochland, VA. Randy actually lived the first year of his life on the grounds of VCCW (in an old house on the property that his parents rented). The Myers family then moved south across the James River to Powhatan, VA, where Randy grew up and attended the public schools, graduating from Powhatan High School in 1980.
Randy earned his B.A. in Philosophy & Religious Studies (with a History minor) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond in 1984. He then went on to earn his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) – with a focus on Christian Education – at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC in 1988. Randy was then ordained as a Baptist minister. He served in several churches in ministry roles such as Youth/Children’s Minister, Music Minister, Associate Pastor, Minister of Christian Education, etc.
In 1990 Randy went to work as a full-time State/DOC employee. He began as a Case Management Counselor at his “old home” of VCCW. The DOC put him through the training necessary to become a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) with the Virginia Dept. of Health Professions. He was then promoted to Clinical Social Worker/Substance Abuse Therapist, working on the special Substance Abuse Therapeutic Community (TC) program at VCCW. Next Randy was promoted to the position of Treatment Program Supervisor (now Institutional Program Manager), supervising a staff of 10 Counselors at Deep Meadow Correctional Center (now State Farm Correctional Complex). After serving in that role for several years, Randy was promoted again and became the DOC’s Statewide Training & Development Coordinator for Counselors & Treatment Services. He served in that role for 9 years. Randy worked for the State/Department of Corrections for a total of 16 years.
Randy brought his ministry experience and correctional experience together in 2006, when he left state employment and came on as Vice President/Religious Advisor for Chaplain Service (working under then President Cecil McFarland for 6 years). In 2012, when Rev. McFarland passed away, the Board selected Randy to succeed Cecil in the role of President of the ministry.
Randy states that he sees the prisons as a “mission field” where we are able to share God’s amazing love and grace with those that Jesus called “the least of these.” He says that his HEROES are the GraceInside Chaplains. They love God, love the men and women that they serve, work in a very difficult and challenging environment, and are the most dedicated and hardworking people he says he has ever known. Randy is grateful and humbled to serve alongside these amazing Chaplains, and he thanks God for walking with him on this journey. Randy has now been with GraceInside for nearly 16 years (and worked in the field of corrections for 32 YEARS!). On May 1st, 2022, Rev. J. Randy Myers celebrated 10 years as President of GraceInside! We wish to thank Randy for his love for this ministry, for his dedicated/faithful service, and for helping GraceInside remain fruitful and successful over this past decade. Happy 10th Anniversary, President Rev. J. Randy Myers!!!