Coffeewood Correctional Center
“I’ve been a Chaplain at Coffeewood Correctional Center (near Culpeper, VA) through GraceInside, Virginia’s Prison Chaplain Service, for five years. For me, the most sacred part of being a Chaplain is serving Communion. ‘Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns.’ That cultivates HOPE. Not everybody in prison shares that hope, but there is a palpable joy for those who do. You almost forget you’re in prison—because at the cross, we’re all there as the Church, as Brothers.
I regularly receive really solid material from Prison Fellowship, things like brochures targeting how to be a better dad while in prison. Putting these things in guys’ hands freely—that’s a gift.
In March we started a Tier 1 Prison Fellowship Academy at the prison. It’s among the best things I have been blessed to be a part of at Coffeewood. It’s hard to develop a sense of community in prison, to try to find a place where you feel like you belong. The Academy establishes that. It promotes vulnerability, transparency, fellowship, and friendship. These are rare treasures in that environment. I’ve found the most basic and simple spiritual principles to be helpful: “Do small things with great love.” Making eye contact, shaking hands, remembering names, being kind and tender in an environment where these things are sometimes seen as signs of weakness, reminding people of their humanity and of their inherent value—that seems to be what we’re really there to do.”