Legend says the criminal Dysmas was crucified with Jesus, who promised him paradise. St. Dysmas, as well as other prison congregation, exist to ensure the incarcerated of God’s forgiveness and acceptance.
“There are wonderful prison ministries, but to me none equal congregations for changing lives,” said the Rev. Ed Nesselhuf, founder of The Community of St. Dysmas and the Prison Congregations of America (www.prisoncongregations.org), that helps form mainline denominational prison congregations emphasizing grace and Word and Sacrament. A pioneer in prison ministry, St. Dysmas involves participants as full members of the congregation. They usher, serve on the church council, and plan programs. They are not recipients of a service project of an outside congregation; they are the congregation. St. Dysmas’ current pastor, the Rev. Bill Lundgren, described the congregation’s upcoming repentance and forgiveness devotional page at www.stdysmasmd.org. “Practice the devotional weekly for a year,” invited Lundgren. “I plan to print the incoming prayers for the inmates. Participants also can make a $2 PayPal donation per visit for the congregation’s ministries .
A former inside St. Dysmas member, “R,” said, “At a very dark time, I needed our weekly Bible studies, worship, and absolution and to receive Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood.”
Interested in helping? Contact St. Dysmas (www.stdysmasmd.org), your local prison, or visit www.prisoncongregations.org for information and a PCOA congregations listing.