Prison and Jail Ministry

United Methodist Jail Ministries is a coalition of United Methodist Churches in the Indianapolis metropolitan area that primarily serves the Marion County Jail, but also ministers in surrounding county jails. At Marion County we provide a monthly chapel service and other services such as hygiene supplies for indigent inmates, emergency clothing, reading materials, postage for inmates, etc.

We started, oddly enough, on the editorial page of the Indianapolis News. A letter from a jail inmate stated, “Not many people care enough.” That comment prompted a group from Faith UMC (now part of Horizons of Faith) to take Christmas cards made by children of the church to the jail for inmates.  Soon Faith provided periodic chapel services, and one member volunteered to serve in the Chaplain’s Office.

Soon it became apparent that there was interest among other United Methodists in jail ministry, and other churches joined in. A Steering Committee was established, and Bobbie Beckwith of Barnes UMC was our first president. Others joined from Epworth, Calvary, New Palestine, Fishers, and University. Soon other churches began financial contributions; among them were Edgewood, Rosedale Hills, Center, Irvington, Speedway, East Tenth. Recently, due in part to the work of UMJM, the Indiana Conference established a committee for prison and jail ministries under the Board of Church and Society.

The Steering Committee is still the official title of the group that oversees the work of UMJM. The current president is Rev. Ivan Jenkins. UMJM has been hit hard in recent years by deaths, particularly of our beloved Bobbie Beckwith.  We also have lost members who have moved out of the area. But we are still committed to being a presence of Jesus Christ to inmates and their families.

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