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2003 PE Report

Americans find comfort in ‘nesting,’ but connecting is another matter (December 22, 2002)

Viewer discretion advised: Reality-based programs stoop to new low (December 15, 2002)

A/G among fastest growing faith groups (December 8, 2002)

Christians play crucial role in foster care (November 24, 2002)

A/G churches remember with outreaches (November 17, 2002)

Elderly face added woes from credit card debt (November 10, 2002)

PE Kidz News from BGMC (October 27, 2002)

Cyber-evangelists find innovative ways to share gospel (October 20, 2002)

Risks, stigma accompany wearing of tattoos (October 13, 2002)

Women lead on-campus ministries (September 29, 2002)

Tobacco, alcohol, gambling industries find underage Internet client base (September 22, 2002)

Marijuana, cocaine have abusive company: Ecstasy, meth and prescription painkillers (September 15, 2002)

September 11: A day that changed American Christians forever (September 8, 2002)

Congress, courts clash over Internet filtering issue (August 25, 2002)

People with disabilities bless churches (August 18, 2002)

Short-term youth binges can result in long-term habit (August 11, 2002)

Christians aim to preserve traditional marriage (July 28, 2002)

Payback time: Christian volunteers motivated to give back to community (July 21, 2002)

Urban training centers minister
to ever-growing population
(July 14, 2002)

E-mail rumors dupe multitudes, hurt credibility (June 30, 2002)

Not so innocent: PG-13 films increasingly push sex, language limits (June 23, 2002)

Skipping church: Why are some Americans staying home on Sunday? (June 16, 2002)

Fudge fellowship: Pastor's wife treats tavern clientele (June 9, 2002)

Persevering nomadic church finally reaches promised land (May 26, 2002)

Tragedy brings A/G church, community closer to God (May 19, 2002)

Couples find God's calling in adopting, raising children (May 12, 2002)

A/G chaplain ministers to women in maximum-security prison (April 28, 2002)

Youth center offers alternative to teens (April 21, 2002)

A week without television (April 14, 2002)

Technological know-how aids San Jose church outreach (March 31, 2002)

Cincinnati racial reconciliation brings inner peace to inner city (March 24, 2002)

District's fund-raising efforts aid pastors planting churches (March 17, 2002)

GED program an effective ministry (March 10, 2002)

Building relationshipis at heart of women's ministries outreach (February 24, 2002)

Single-minded devotion: Unmarried ranks offer ministry opportunities (February 17, 2002)

Bethany College honors black minister pioneer (February 10, 2002)

A/G quarterback wins Unitas Award (January 27, 2002)

Camp Melody plants song of love in boys' hearts (January 20, 2002)

Pastor breaks giving record after 10 days atop billboard (January 13, 2002)

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

A/G chaplain ministers to women in maximum-security prison

(April 28, 2002)

Visitors are rare in the segregated maximum-security section of the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Family and friends are prohibited from visiting. Except for Assemblies of God Chaplain Pamela Moore, two other chaplains at the institution and support staff, few others are allowed in the secure unit.

Office visit: A/G Chaplain Pamela Moore counsels inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

This is a noisy place most of the time as the isolated inmates shout at one another or to attract the attention of corrections officers. Some yell obscenities. These inmates are locked down for 23 hours a day. The only exceptions are to shower and exercise.

The rustle of a visitor is noticed immediately. As Moore, 54, enters the wing, she hears many voices clamoring for recognition. She stops to chat in an effort to form a connection.

"Often they just want someone to talk to," says Moore, who attends First Assembly of God in Mansfield with her husband of 27 years, Paul. "They have a lot of time to think in segregation. If they are willing to let the Lord get hold of them it can mean a big change."

The early encounters aren’t a time for deep theological discussions. Moore is just there to listen, pray and leave Christian literature with those who are interested. The interaction takes place through a "cuff port," a small opening in the steel cell door large enough for the purpose of hands to be handcuffed.

Only after a prisoner has shown a genuine spiritual curiosity — and authorities have approved — may she be brought out of the cell and led into another room for one-on-one discipleship. But a prison conversion doesn’t garner much leniency. Inmates still must wear shackles in the most secure area of the facility.

Many in the prison population earlier suffered physical or sexual abuse. "These women aren’t that dissimilar from those I’ve treated before," says Moore, a former mental health therapist. "The difference is those women had some kind of support system that kept them from making criminal choices."

"Chaplain Moore is a caring, spiritual leader," says Bonnie Frost, 58, who worked as a Methodist chaplain at the institution. "She’s a good model for the women. She takes time with them."

Moore, who had completed a master of divinity degree in pastoral counseling, never thought about prison ministry until reading a Pentecostal Evangel article. She initially began volunteering at the Richland County Jail and found the experience joyful. Although Moore had been apprehensive, she felt comfortable relating to the women in a meaningful way.

Through that experience, much prayer and the counsel of friends, Moore contacted the Assemblies of God Chaplaincy Department. After her ordination in May 2000, Moore applied for a job at the reformatory, the only maximum-security prison for women in Ohio. She was hired as a contract chaplain for 30 hours a week.

There are around 1,800 inmates at the facility, serving sentences from less than a year to life. From a distance, the reformatory looks like a college campus, with brick and stone buildings forming a quadrangle. But on closer inspection it becomes clear that fences and barbed wire aren’t keeping students inside. Most inmates work or attend educational classes during weekdays. That means Moore works plenty of evenings and weekends. About half her time is spent in pastoral counseling providing spiritual direction.

"Unlike many men, women usually want to talk about emotional crises," Moore says. She holds weekly Bible studies with the general population and the non-violent offenders. She also regularly visits cottages where inmates are physically unable to make it to regular Sunday worship services, which draw around 60 in the morning and 225 in the evening. The prison church includes a choir, praise dance troupe and a drama team.

Moore has opportunities to impact "career criminals" who face a bleak future once their sentences are finished. "All of a sudden they look at their lives and they know they’re going to die if they go back on the streets again," Moore says. "They begin to think seriously about eternal things."

That makes Moore’s role one that includes nurturing and caring, showing the love that some of the women missed growing up. The inmates, by and large, had no godly role models and their self-image is damaged. One of those she disciples accepted Jesus as Savior at a county jail before being transferred to the reformatory. "She cries when she talks about Jesus seeing her that night," Moore says. "I told her, ‘Jesus always has seen you, but this is the one time you saw Him.’ Now she is hungering after the things of God like she used to hunger after drugs."

Those in segregation, especially, need pastoral care. "They believe God has forgotten them — or that God should forget them — because of the things they have done," Moore says.

Despite the draining toll ministry to such people can take, Moore finds her job satisfying because it is a wonderful mission field. "Not a day goes by that I don’t get to present the gospel to someone," she says.

— John W. Kennedy

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