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Published by Stan Moody

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Published by: Stan Moody on Sep 07, 2011
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09/07/2011

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Manchester church awarded national grant to launch prison outreach ministryFiled under Charitable Causes, Featured, State no commentsStan MoodyMANCHESTER — The Meeting House Church has been awarded a grant of nearly $18,000 to develop a 2-year pilot program to work with the criminal justice system in Kennebec and Somerset counties to mentor, advocate for and intercede on behalf of offenders and their families.The grant was provided by the American Baptist Foundation of Valley Forge, PA.,as part of its national effort to build “healing communities” that will minister toand welcome prisoners and their families, both during incarceration and when theprisoners re-enter society.“I find this program fascinating because it addresses the exact place where the church can make a difference,” said Sandy Wright of Mount Vernon, a longtime MeetingHouse Church member and a co-founder of the church’s new Maine Prison ChaplaincyCorps (MPCC).“Families of offenders are unjustly tagged with the same social stigma of their loved ones and have become an exiled community,” Wright said. “We hope to work together with other advocates to help heal all people affected by crime. If the churchcannot become a place of healing and restoration, it has become irrelevant and might as well close its doors.”The MPCC pilot program was developed after years of effort by Rev. Stan Moody, who has led the Meeting House Church for 18 years and who worked as a prison chaplain until the homicide death of segregated prisoner Sheldon Weinstein at MaineState Prison in 2009.Moody has written extensively, as well as speaking out publicly, about the dysfunctional corrections system in Maine. Moody is concerned for both the prisonersand the guards who are tasked with assuring the safety and dignity of the prisoners, regardless of their crimes.“We are grateful for the support of the American Baptist denominations, both in Maine and across the United States,” Moody said. “The American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) offers a baseline of 5,500 congregations and a long history of home missions. As a mainstream denomination, ABUSA offers a unique opportunity to join with other community stakeholders to restore dignity to offenders and their families.”Beginning in October, the MPCC hopes to train, certify and put to work a group of 10 to 12 lay chaplains who would work with prisoners, their families and victims in the two central Maine counties. Moody hopes the program will one day be adopted statewide.“The corrections systems in the U.S. are broken,” Moody said. “Not only are they financially unsustainable, but socially bankrupt. With the U.S. incarcerating 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, there are few families who have not been impacted insome way by the justice system.“We can no longer ignore the social impact of crime, punishment and wasted lives on our culture, Moody said. “The local churches may well be the last line of defense. They have woefully shirked their duty out of fear and ignorance.”In addition to the start-up grant, ABCUSA is providing the services and supportof Fela Barrueto, national coordinator of the church’s Prison Reentry and Aftercare Ministry. Barrueto, who attended the Aug. 17 meeting of the MPCC, offered to a

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