Dozens of prisoners, many of them sex offenders, are members at Chandler (AZ) Christian Church.
Several times a year, volunteers from the church take a portable baptistery to a local prison and baptize 25 to 35 men each time.
“We consider them part of our church and the congregation celebrates every quarter when we report back,” says Matt Meyers, pastor of changing ministries.
The baptisms are the fruit of a years-long effort to minister to the inmates in a local prison. Every Friday night a team of volunteers brings worship music, Communion, and a message to more than 150 men in the sexual offenders unit. Before that, ministry was to the general population.
“It’s the largest church service in a prison in this area,” Myers says. “It all started because a woman in our church wanted to make a difference and start this ministry.”
Myers, CCC senior pastor Roger Storms, and two other volunteers
alternate preaching. The weekly
services also include time for prisoners to write prayer concerns on cards,
which volunteers pray for during the following week.
Each of these volunteers makes a significant commitment to the project; each one must undergo a background check and participate in a training course to be an official volunteer for the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Myers says a dozen of the men who have left prison now attend Chandler Christian, and many of the guys who are still incarcerated tithe to the church.
“These men make 10 cents an hour, and it costs them a dollar to mail a check,” he says. “But they faithfully send four or five dollars to the church offices.”