C010 Access to Prison Ministries

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring,

That The Episcopal Church affirm its commitment to prison ministries consistent with the current theological and spiritual values of The Episcopal Church and provide all of God’s children with opportunities to minister to and with this marginalized and oppressed population, in accordance with the following principles and policies:

  • The Episcopal Church supports inter- and multi-faith ministries that contribute to our mission to follow Jesus, loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40) and demonstrating particular care for those who are marginalized and oppressed (Matthew 25:31-46);
  • Episcopalians find common cause and minister with organizations and individuals with whom we have theological differences, without proselytizing or demanding that our ministry partners adhere to the tenets we espouse;
  • The over one million incarcerated individuals in this country are among the most marginalized and oppressed members of our society;
  • Episcopalians faithfully engage in ministry with incarcerated individuals, seeking to provide support, encouragement, and hope to these persons;
  • Among the many members of the incarcerated population as well as those who minister to and with them, are individuals who are LGBTQIA+, a community that also experiences marginalization in this country;
  • Following the Way of Jesus, Episcopalians minister to and with all God’s children, with special focus on the support and liberation of those who are oppressed;
  • Our canons prohibit the denial of access to any ministry of this Church “because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital or family status (including pregnancy and child care plans), sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disabilities or age” (Canon III.1.2);

and be it further

Resolved, that Episcopalians may not be forced to overtly or tacitly endorse theological statements or practices that conflict with our stated policies and beliefs in order to participate in shared prison ministry programs; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention urge any prison ministry program in which members of The Episcopal Church volunteer hold policies consistent with our spiritual teachings and stated policies, asking such programs to change their policies if they conflict with our nondiscrimination canons; and be it further

Resolved, That if such ministries refuse to change such policies, that this Convention encourage dioceses to develop and share programs for their members to minister with incarcerated individuals, those newly released from prison, and families and loved ones of incarcerated individuals in ways that are consistent with our Church’s current spiritual teachings, principles, and policies.