GPSF hosted a productive meeting on the subject of women’s prison seminaries in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The meeting brought together Dr. Kristi Miller, assistant warden and program director of the women’s prison seminary at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW), Dr. Kevin Brown of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), Andrea Shelton of HeartBound Ministries in Georgia, Burl Cain, Brenna Norwood, and Grove Norwood of the Heart of Texas Foundation.
Andrea is seeking advice and support in preparation for the women’s prison seminary initiative in Georgia. She is a member of the Georgia Board of Corrections and her organization, HeartBound, is multi-faceted in its mission of prison ministry. Brenna and Grove Norwood facilitated the opening of a prison seminary for the men of Darrington Prison in Texas, which is in its 6th year and has sent graduates across the state as resident field ministers in numerous prisons. They based the seminary structure on the seminary at Angola and are now working with GPSF and Southwestern Seminary to extend and model this program to serve women in Texas prisons. This meeting allowed for Andrea, Brenna, and Grove to gain insight from the experience of those involved with the women’s prison seminary in Louisiana. The seminary at LCIW is in its 7th year and going strong. Dr. Miller explained that the seminary wasn’t always as healthy as it is now, but anticipating the challenges will equip the leaders to strive for success.
One important take away from the meeting is that women’s programs, especially in prisons, often require special consideration. Not only are a large number of these women mothers, but many of them also suffer from emotional and physical trauma. This means that the seminary leaders and teachers must be able to provide a nurturing presence outside of the traditional classroom setting to encourage healthy relationship building until the students are equipped to support each other and their families outside of prison. These extra challenges can lead to greater payoffs in the end. Imagine a world where women are teaching women to be Christ-centered leaders in their families and communities—and this starting in a prison.