Ten Years of Prison Ministry

When I was ordained 10 years ago I never dreamed this Sunday would come. Ten years ago none of us had any idea what a prison ministry would actually look like. This Celtic Cross image was just basically drawn on a napkin. It was not a mission statement, or a business plan. At best it was a "might be nice" list. Basically, this church started the Prison Ministry Project with hope, prayer and the Gospel command that we should visit people in prison. It also started with your faith in me.
St. Paul said "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". In the thirty years that I had been a member of this church, I think my call to ministry had been unseen. Early on I was a pretty obnoxious young lawyer. As I got older I became the youth leader who took the senior high kids to New Orleans and Bourbon Street and claimed a Sunday morning trip to Greenbush Bakery to get kosher donuts was teaching them religious tolerance. All in all it was not a record of responsible faithfulness. 
But then something changed. I felt a call to ministry. Not just any ministry, but to a ministry to men and women in prison. Bonnie Van Overbeke saw I was serious, Curt Anderson saw that it could maybe happen at First Congregational, my wife Linda was surprised but completely supportive. Most of all this congregation had faith in me and the unseen hope that a prison ministry might work.
Your faith in the righteousness of this work has made the past ten years possible. We have been inside the walls of Wisconsin prisons more than 1500 times. Hundreds of volunteers have been committed to work inside the walls and advocating for criminal justice reform. The Prison Ministry Project has become one of the strongest voices for justice in Wisconsin. Your faith is the foundation on which all this is built.
All the things on the "would be nice list" are being done. Personally I want to thank this church for giving me the best job I ever had.
Thanks, Rev. Jerry Hancock

Posted on December 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm in Featured Content.

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