Sunday, October 16, 2011

Prison Seminary or Seminary Prison

Having gone for two years to the premier pre-sem program in the LCMS (Concordia Senior College) with its single sex population and grounds far off the main road, we thought we might be in prison (or at least held captive).  Here is another take on that idea.  Perhaps a new way to reduce the cost of seminary education in the LCMS and recruit new church workers?  You can read it all here.

The Darrington Unit is a maximum-security prison just thirty minutes south of Houston. The Darrington Prison resembles most other maximum-security prisons around the country, except for the fact that it now offers a four-year seminary behind the prison walls. On August 29, 2011, thirty-nine prisoners were formally installed as the first class of seminarians studying to become ministers under a new program that operates within the prison.

The nondenominational program is modeled after a similar program at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, more commonly referred to as Angola. Initiated by warden Burl Cain, the Angola Bible College has received considerable attention from both secular and sacred media outlets since its inception in 1995. The Darrington Project, made possible through private funding from the Heart of Texas Foundation, is an extension of the Fort Worth–based Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, hopes that the program will succeed and that new classes will follow each year. 


Peter Reilly said...

Prisons as a place for spiritual growth is not a new idea. Our current system is actually based on an early 19th century reform model. The idea was that in the penetentiary criminals would reflect on their sins and become penitent. The book We Are All Doing Time by Bo Lozoff of the Human Kindness Foundation encourages prisoners to take that tack.

Anonymous said...

Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne
was no prison. The architecture was
outstanding as Aero Sarineen made it
a first class campus. The village
concept made it a community to be
envied. In the 1960's it was a
premier showcase for ministerial
training as it feed into Concordia
Seminary, St. Louis. It has not
been replaced and the LCMS parishes
of today are the losers.