Grace Place, a congregation that has met inside the local women’s prison since 2007, has become an official United Methodist church.
That makes Grace Place only the second United Methodist church inside a prison.
“We hope to inspire others to establish congregations in other prisons,” said Rev. Diane Harrison, who has been leading Grace Place as a nonprofit ‘mission’ of Good Shepherd UMC.
“This is so new we really haven’t considered all the possibilities. The women are absolutely ecstatic that it has finally happened after five years.”
Over the years, Grace Place has functioned much like a church.
There’s a regular worship service (second and fourth Friday evenings, third and fifth Saturday evenings) in the prison chapel. Weekly activities include prayer groups on Mondays and Thursdays, exercise classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, a book club and choir practice on Saturday mornings, and United Methodist Women the last Wednesday of each month.
The nine-member church council, which includes several inmates who were convicted of murder, meets every Wednesday.