Grace Cathedral’s Jail Ministry is a cooperative venture that draws volunteers from several Episcopal churches and beyond. We help the women and men in the San Francisco County jail system connect with God and themselves, their families and loved ones, and with each other. It is a ministry of presence, hospitality and respect.
There are two ways to get involved:
Worship in the jails
We offer evening prayer occasional Communion services in a women’s unit or the men’s psych unit in San Francisco on Tuesday evenings. As a ministry of presence, we do not preach, proselytize or judge. We just pray, sing and lead a conversational style of Bible study and reflection, and everyone’s voice is given room to be heard.
Stories from Mom/Dad
Help inmates maintain links with their children. Volunteers bring children’s books and tape recorders to the incarcerated parents. The parent chooses a book and the volunteer records her or his voice as they read to their child. The book and recording are then sent to the child’s guardian. Offered four times per month for women in San Francisco and men in San Bruno.
What is the Commitment?
- All volunteers serve once or twice a month in a jail.
- Worship leaders participate in monthly meetings.
- Stories from Mom/Dad volunteers contribute time and effort to an annual gift drive for the children we serve and attend an annual meeting and gift-wrapping party.
Wondering whether this for you?
- Pray about it and spend some time with scripture references to jails and prisoners.
- Consider your gifts. Small group facilitating, strong communication skills and compassionate listening are central to this work.
- Survey your life. Is this a sustainable and life-giving addition at this time?
Want to try it out first?
- Actually, everyone begins with temporary clearance to enter the jails and shadows a current jail minister before applying for a 2-year clearance.
Other ways to help the Jail Ministry
Being in the jails isn’t for everyone or for everyone’s schedule. Some other ways to participate include:
- Form a group that prays regularly for the needs and concerns of prisoners. The prayers could be emailed to you on a regular basis.
- Volunteer to keep our library of children’s books and/or bibles stocked.
- There is so much to learn about criminal justice and ministry withing the justice system. Volunteers are needed to carry out occasional research and help us discern new directions.