The Brotherhood of St. Andrew is planning a halfway house in Texas to help parolees return to society. Brothers meeting in Mississippi June 10-15 heard reports from the organization’s prison ministry volunteers.
Brothers heard the proposal during the 134-year-old ministry’s annual national council meeting held this year at the Bishop Duncan M. Gray Camp and Conference Center, a 700-acre facility of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi.
The Brotherhood of St. Andrew has 4,212 members in 355 chapters nationwide.
For inmates who have served many years behind bars, the demands of adjusting to the pace of 21st-century life “are enormous,” Brother Jerry Bailey of Cleburne, Texas, told the 34 Brothers attending the meeting.
Prison ministry involving restorative justice has become a major ministry for Brothers in Texas, New Jersey, and South Carolina, among several sites.
“It’s the most rewarding type of ministry I’ve been involved with,” Brother Bailey said. He’s helped inmates for 30 years and has noticed it’s becoming “more and more difficult for former inmates to succeed once they leave prison.”
“The number of choices they have to make every day is enormous,” said Brother Bailey, a prison chaplain. “It overwhelms them and they find it’s easier to return to old patterns of living. Having a place they can go to live until they can get on their feet, find jobs and receive counseling is sorely needed.”
The brotherhood needs the wisdom of its entire membership to seek and find funding from myriad federal, state and private funding sources.
“There is grant money available as well,” Brother Bailey said.
While some brothers expressed skepticism about raising a possible $500,000, the council unanimously agreed to back the project and begin the legal processes necessary to acquire a 20-acre site south of Fort Worth.
“This property is available to us, it’s centrally-located in the middle of the country, and it could serve parolees from throughout the country,” Bailey said, noting that Texas has the most prison inmates in the United States.
Brothers agreed that such a major project should be well within the scope of the organization’s membership.
“We are men of God and we are capable of great things,” Vice President Julian Korti said.
Brother Korti also delivered a report on the brotherhood’s longtime involvement in Uganda, where 40 young people housed in foster homes receive educational and other funding support from brothers throughout the U.S.
“We would still like to establish a nonprofit agency not run by the brotherhood, nor the Episcopal Church, to receive funds from corporations and other organizations that will not donate funds to religious organizations,” Brother Korti said.
He’s hoping to put together a team to complete Hope International Services this year.
“African ministry is difficult and full of disappointments as well as successes,” Brother Korti said as he told brothers about the plight of the first brotherhood-educated student to receive a doctoral degree in mathematics.
“He was prepared to begin teaching mathematics but soon fell ill to a heart defect and returned to Mukono, where he helps teach the young students,” Brother Korti said. “He is a valuable member of our Ugandan Brotherhood, but this is often the way it is in Africa — one step forward and one step backward. … We pray for his return to health.”
Staff member Sue Clausson oversees the program from the Brotherhood’s national office in Ambridge.
Bishop Todd Hunter teaches
The Rt. Rev. Todd Hunter, former Alpha director and Bishop of the Anglican Church in North America’ s Diocese For the Sake of Others, was the conference’s guest speaker and preacher.
He stayed an extra day to help brothers better understand what is happening in this postmodern culture and how we must “act like missionaries.” He cited St. Paul’s examples from 1 Corinthians 9:
I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, non-religious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized — whomever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempt to lead those into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it. I wanted to be intentionally in on it.
Image: Bishop Duncan M. Gray III leads the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in prayer.