Joel Martinez and I are Education for Ministry (EfM) Co-Mentors for a weekly class at Elmwood Jail in Milpitas, California. We were recently part of a class to renew our mentor accreditation in the University of the South – School of Theology‘s EfM program. During the training, Joel and I discussed how we could extend the theological reflections and discussions with the jail inmates. We decided to use the structure of “The Way of Love – Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life” – a new program of the Episcopal Church, by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Canon Stephanie Spellers.
Joel reviewed the published material and prepared a handout about The Way of Love. I edited the handout and added more Bible quotes and passages from the Book of Common Prayer. We distributed the handout as homework to the EfM seminar on 15 August 2018. With permission of the inmates, Below is some of what they said in class 22 August 2018 about what they found valuable and world continue to work on in their lives. This EfM program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
|Meditating on issues, problems, and God – alone, without distractions when possible||EfM, having a solo-cell, quiet time||Pay it forward, doing nice things for others without expectation of reimbursement|
|Praying||Spiritual discussions, joining EfM||Meeting with spiritual advisor, EfM, prayers at night|
|Will continue to work with priest, other EfM students and mentors||Pray at night and daytime – for other people and for my family||.|
|Compare scripture stories and verses to life experiences||See an action that reflects what God wants us to do – doing the right thing for the right reason. Know that I am doing OK in this situation||Reading scripture in a more modern context – seeing Jesus in the world today – “new age Jesus” – even among non-Christians|
|Imagining scripture scenarios inspires – look for wording to break down meaning – how it is presented||Share with EfM classmates, cellie, my Mom||Referring to prior Bible passages that were meaningful when I read them before|
|Remember to pray at meals and certain times of the day – thank God throughout the day||A single cell helps – quiet time||Use the “Catholic Prayers” book – favorite prayers tied to times of day – grace at meals – say guardian angel prayer when I wake up|
|Grace before meals, thanks throughout the day||Read “Daily Bread” every morning, pray with EfM class||Devotions before dinner|
|Saturday chapel, Sunday mass, read the Bible after church, read biographies of saints||EfM weekly – being part of the class||Only regular service in the jail dorm is Catholic, go to Episcopal service when available|
|Talk about God a lot – show my faith through kindness and love, smiling, laughing||Give people hope – spin negative to positive||Opportunities to advise, counsel, bless, help feed when I can, give wisdom and encouragement – do what I can|
|Can try to advise but can’t always convince, bless the hungry and those truly in need, choose to help based on real need – try to be smart and not be taken advantage of||Never say no – follow the example of St. Francis – learning when to set barriers||.|
|Programs help – like RRR (Re-educate, Recovery, Re-entry), and MRT (Moral Recognition Therapy), and Enneagram, and EfM||Outside programs for recovery – letters and certificates help to get in||EfM, thanking God during the court process, talking with other inmates when in transit|
|Sometimes have good conversations in the holding tanks||Coach and guide new inmates – scared people – reassure them||.|
|Meditation, working out, stretching||Exercise, sleep, daydream||Stopped being a dorm Trustee so could get more sleep|
|Rest in God’s grace – know he is sufficient – pray for help to get through this (not to get out of it)||Meditation – close my eyes and breathe – meditate lying down: pull energy through body into the world||Use “Be still and know that I am God” prayer for meditation, to quiet my mind – still trying|
If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).
The Way of Love image is from The Episcopal Church, 2018.