On July 28 New Mexico’s prison seminary, through the University of the Southwest, hosted its first graduation at Lea County Correctional Center. The seminary in New Mexico was founded in 2015. Its founding and current success is largely due to David and Paul Cauwels who are local supporters of the seminary and also affiliated with Prison Fellowship Ministries. Several years ago, through connections at Prison Fellowship, Burl assisted the Cauwels and New Mexico Corrections officials in setting the foundation for the seminary. Now the process has come full circle and two graduates have already been sent as field ministers to other prisons.
The Commencement ceremony honored eighteen men who completed the 2-year initial program and two 4-year graduates who earned their Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree. Burl and GPSF Board Member, Terry Van Der Aa, were invited to attend the events at Lea County and Burl was asked to speak at the Baccalaureate ceremony. We are so blessed to be able to have been involved in this movement in New Mexico.
Lea County Correctional is run by the GEO group of private prisons. This seminary is proof that private prisons can follow the prison seminary model and successfully maintain the division between church and state and private business. The success of this program can occur in any state and any type prison system as long as the students are given adequate access and support.
We will continue to update you on the tremendous work that inmates, seminary staff, and volunteers are doing in New Mexico.