Gabby Reed One Community Church (February 28, 2023)
The following is an interview with Gabby (aka Audryanna) Reed, who leads the prison ministry at our home church, One Community Church in Plano, TX. Cathy has been advising Gabby and has connected her with several of Cathy’s contacts around the country.
Don: Cathy and I have been so excited to see the things happening at One Community Church. Share with our friends some of the elements of the prison ministry program you've been working on, Project 61:1.
Gabby: Thank you so much, Don. What I would say about our prison ministry is over the past two years, it has really evolved. As you all can imagine, our program was significantly impacted by COVID. Before the pandemic, we existed of a singular program called “Day with Dad,” which is pretty popular at several different units. We coordinate with the chaplains to bring in volunteers and activities so dads can connect with their kids. It is a day of fun and an extended family visit. But of course, when the pandemic started, we weren't able to go into prisons, and so we waited a little bit, then a bit longer, before we realized that the amount of time before we would be able to go back in was indefinite. We acknowledged that people are still getting into trouble, and people are still getting out of prison. So how could we revamp to become a more holistic prison ministry, which is where we are today, having three pillars to our program. The first is called “Alongside” and it focuses on pre-trial: people who were in jail as well as youth who are in the juvenile detention center. We are trying to create career opportunities for them and connect them to career pathways to redirect their lives. Our second pillar is called “Ground Works” which focuses on programs specifically inside the prison, on the ground, with people who are incarcerated. We facilitate our programs through existing nonprofit organizations. They exist without us, but we connect our volunteers to them so that they have a steady influx of volunteers into their programs. And so we have some weekly Bible study type programs, and we are also back online with Day with Dad. We have also added a letter-writing ministry with Crossroads Prison Ministries, which was important in our revamping, giving people another opportunity to serve right where they are. We want to think about people impacted by the justice system, but also our volunteers, providing opportunities that are both virtual and in-person. And then we have our reentry pillar, which is called “Incarceration to Incorporation” (I2I for short), where we partner with organizations that focus on reentry. We want our volunteers to see a decrease in recidivism rates throughout the country.
Don: That's such a great explanation, and we're so grateful for what you're doing and how things are building and growing. Keep up the good work.