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• Free at last!
• Bishop Bethlehem in prison
• Thoughts on a Church Window
Free at last!
Although they are still behind
bars, some of the prisoners in St Alban´s Maximum Security Prison
are free at last - that is, the freedom from sin that the Lord Jesus
Christ brings to those who give their lives to him.
First Confirmation in St Alban´s Maximum Security Prison
Sunday 13 May saw the first ever Confirmation Service in St
Alban´s Maximum Security Prison when Bishop Bethlehem confirmed
seventy candidates in a joyful service attended by over five hundred
people, reports Howard Lancaster.
Several choirs and worship groups from the prison participated in the
service which was also attended by about thirty members of St
Luke´s, St Simon of Cyrene and St Mark and St John´s
parishes. Our Diocesan Prisons Chaplain, Jogra Gallant, has been
ministering at St Alban´s for a little over a year and has been
thrilled at the response to the proclaiming of the gospel there. The
service was the culmination of a six months' confirmation preparation
course. The candi-dates and others are continuing their faith journey
in the Abounding Love Bible School, which Jogra runs and which Bishop
Bethlehem launched at the service. The Bible School now has one hundred
The Area Commissioner of Prisons, Lineo Mokhetsi and the Revd
Mzimane Jita, the Prison Chaplain, also attended the service along with
the rector of All Saints', Howard Lancaster, representing TEE College,
whose students were involved in leading the service.
One of the choirs had written a song featuring Bishop Bethlehem and
much dancing and rejoicing ensued. Another of the songs "I Still Have
Joy", summed up the mood, not only of the day but the joy in Christ
that the inmates feel which even the prison walls cannot suppress.
The Area Commissioner spoke after Bishop Bethlehem´s sermon and
also brought an inspiring message including reminding everyone of their
families and especially their mothers, as the day was also
Mothers´ Day. What was encouraging was seeing the real rapport
between her and both the inmates and the warders. An example of this
was the announcement that on the following Sunday, the prison´s
choirs would be recorded and a CD made. One had a real sense that this
was truly correctional services rather than punitive justice and the
forgiveness and transformation available in Christ is the key in making
Some parishes had donated Bibles for the candidates, a team provided
packs of eats for those who attended the service and all was much
Bishop Bethlehem commented that while he always prayed for the inmates,
he was excited to visit St Alban´s for the first time and have
the privilege of conducting the first Confirmation service there. The
service was an extremely joyous event, which the leaders battled to
bring to a close after four hours because the inmates had to get on
with other activities!
Pics: Top: Those who made it happen - Bishop Bethlehem, Lineo Mokhetsi, the
Area Commissioner of Prisons, Jogra Gallant, the Diocesan Prison
Chapelain, and Mzimane Jita the Prison Chaplain.; Bottom: I lay my hands upon you - Bishop Bethlehem confirms two of the inmates of St Alban's Maximum Security Prison.
Bishop Bethlehem in prison
Arthur Fisher of St Simon of
Cyrene, one of the team who minister in the prison, reports on the
'behind the scene' activities that helped to make the Bishop's visit to
prison on Confirmation Day a great success.
On the evening of 12 May the team gathered at Jogra Gallant's home,
which they turned into a 'factory.' The light-hearted banter helped to
make the backbreaking task of putting together 400 plates of eats go
faster. The eats were a special treat for those who were being
confirmed, their guests and fellow-prisoners. We are very grateful to
all those who contributed the eats to make this such a success.
The next morning saw all of us outside the prison gates at 08h30 and
just after 09h00 we were let through what seemed like 'a million doors'
to where the inmates were waiting for us. Praise and worship had begun
and the Holy Spirit was very present with the genuine sincerity evident
as the inmates soulfully sang, danced and clapped hands to the glory of
Christ our Lord.
During the service, the scripture readings and the announcements were
handled by the inmates and 'choirs from heaven' kept the spirit alive.
We were in awe of the talent of those male voices raised in songs of
Thoughts on a Church Window
I paused awhile within my church to sit
And looked upon the stained glass window lit
By clouded gold of early morning light;
And resting there I pondered with delight
Upon the wondrous craft of such a man
Who from these countless scraps of glass,
Began to fashion thus a delicate design;
When through the window streamed a light divine,
And all the church was warmed with radiance bright
Reflected from this glorious holy light,
As every particle of glass was filled
With shimmering rays from golden sunshine spilled.
In great humility I knelt and praised
The Lord who by His own mysterious ways
Had shown that man must God Almighty ask
To bless and fortify his earthly task.
I thanked my God for granting me this time
>From worldly hours of selfishness and crime;
That through the window of His holy place
I'd glimpsed just once the beauty of His face.
- By Pamela ffolliott
Pic: The East Window above the altar at Holy Trinity in central.
Lent Course testimonies
Watch out for wonderful testimonies about the Diocesan Lent Course - next iindaba.
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