For The Record

Submit birth, marriage and obituary records online.

PDF documents on this site require the free Adobe Reader:

Get Adobe Reader

2010-09-01 issue:

Prison ministry nurtures sisterhood

Jailhouse Sisters only allowed to bring Bibles when they visit the prison

by Laurie Oswald Robinson for Menno­nite Church USA

Print Article

For 23 years, Ethel Umble visited female inmates in a county jail in Elkhart, Ind., as she participated in the Jail Sisters Ministry sponsored by women at College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind. She still enjoys friendship with them beyond the jail cell.
Today, three of the former inmates are out of jail and living in their communities. Umble, who is approaching 90, keeps in touch regularly and occasionally lunches with them. She also accompanies one of these friends, who has been diagnosed with cancer, to a chemotherapy clinic.

Nine of 12 "jailhouse sisters" placed their Bibles on a table at College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind., on Aug. 15. Their Bibles are the only articles allowed when they visit prisoners. Photo by Everett Thomas.
"They have become real friends, and I consider them to be my sisters in Christ," Umble says. "The prison system is based on a 'three strikes and you're out' mentality, but the ministry taught me that God calls us to something different—to justice and compassion based on rehabilitation and redemption, not punishment."

Umble is one of many women involved in Jailhouse Sisters who has experienced how in Christ strangers can become friends. Since the ministry was founded in 1980, groups of women have provided Sunday worship services once a month. Currently, 12 women divide into teams to lead ser­vices in the jail on a rotating basis.

"This ministry has changed me," says June Gingerich Yoder, a school nurse who joined the ministry several years ago. "I’ve become much less judgmental of people who are struggling.

"I serve so many families dealing with drug issues. But since I've been in the jails, I've become an advocate for finding new ways of rehabilitating. I think our punitive methods for dealing with people aren’t working and only cause a lot of recidivism."

Yoder is often the designated prayer person for her Sunday. She begins praying a week ahead of time. She prays on the drive to the jail and silently prays for the inmates during worship. The designated prayer person also brings prayer requests from the women—many of whom are incarcerated for financial or drug crimes—back to the College Mennonite faith community.

Betty Yoder, who visits inmates one-on-one every Wednesday afternoon, recalls feeling hesitant when she began her involvement with the Jail Sisters ministry.

"The first day I was scheduled to go into the facility, I struggled with wanting to cancel my commitment," Yoder says. "The thought of going into a place I'd never been before or talking to women with whom I had nothing in common felt scary.

"But as I wrestled with God about my ambivalence, God reminded me how much I’d been blessed with love and that it was time I shared that love with others."

She decided to go, and as the big door clanged behind her she found women who spoke a common language, longing for unconditional love and healing.

"I listen to their stories, and we pray together," Yoder says. "Some of their struggles seem so insurmountable. I try to let them know that God loves them so very, very much."

Over the years, new restrictions have brought changes to the Jail Sisters' visits. Today, unlike in the past, the Jail Sisters are not allowed to touch the women they are visiting—such as holding hands when praying or hugging goodbye.

Rose Widmer, interim team leader at College Mennonite, has watched the ministry blossom over the years since it was founded 30 years ago by Dorothy McCammon, Verna Troyer, Rachel Fisher and Nancy Lapp.

"[Their] model of simply being there for people and going where they are rather than having them come to us, exemplifies what it means to open ourselves up to others and to God without having to have everything figured out beforehand," Widmer says.

Reader Comments

Add Comments
  • Posted by tonyw at Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 09:59 AM

    It is always a pleasure to read a text written by someone, who knows how to write in an interesting way and has something to say – from me you get a huge "thanks".

  • Posted by izolagotter at Monday, March 24, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging glance easy. The entire glance of your site is wonderful, let alone as} the content! blog writing service blog posts content for website social signals adult seo

  • Posted by Janice at Monday, April 07, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    Use accepted sense. If it looks to acceptable to replica wallets be true, it is. If it comes to a accepted artist handbag, you're not traveling to be able to buy one for $20 unless it was afresh aching by a tiger. If you absolutely wish to advance in a Michael Kors bag, you're traveling to accept to be accommodating to allotment with a appropriate block of change.Purchase Michael Kors accoutrements from acclaimed dealers. If you're affairs secondhand online or at auction, buy from dealers who advertise at a fair amount and analysis out their accreditation afore you buy. If they don't accept a acknowledgment action or if the bargain alone lasts for a amount of hours, this is a acceptable assurance that it's illegitimate. Analysis chump reviews or get something in autograph from the replica belts banker acceptance the backpack and acceptance you to acknowledgment it if you acquisition out it's a knockoff.Last but not least, transaction and shipping. Paypal is the easiest way and protects the client and the seller. I aswell specify accepted addresses or crave allowance for added aegis for myself.Shipping can be done with collapsed amount prioriity boxes, which you can get chargeless from the column office.How to list? Be anecdotic and yield a lot of pictures. Humans wish to be able to see this bag. Accord pictures of the inside, outside, tags and any appropriate features. Described the bag as best you can and accord abstracts including the band bead length. The replica chanel added questions you can acknowledgment up front, the added time you can save.Set a account with which to absorb on your artist broad bag. Apprehend to pay anywhere from 30%-80% off the retail price, depending on breadth you buy your broad from.Seek wholesalers who buy their handbags from overstock of baby boutiques. Go to baby boutiques in your breadth and ask who they buy their accoutrements from and if they advertise their accoutrements to any wholesalers that are reputable.Buy your artist broad bag alone afterwards accomplishing as abundant analysis as accessible on breadth the a lot of accurate and best accoutrements can be purchased. Attending online at wholesalers as a endure resort as you wish to be able to see and authority your backpack to ensure quality.Search online for a advertisement of wholesalers in your breadth or in the country in general. Be able to biking a bit to get the best amount on an accurate broad handbag.Check the endure one or two numbers afterward the aboriginal numbers. The two numbers analyze the date the aggregation bogus the bag. The numbers accept to be beneath than 31. If the bag contains a amount aloft 31, again it indicates a fake.

  • Posted by paulyoung at Tuesday, April 08, 2014 at 05:16 AM

    Nice blog right here! structure of foreign exchange market trading strategies forex money exchange rate calculator Also your website quite a bit up very fast! What web host are you using? Can I am getting your affiliate hyper link on your host? I want my web site loaded up as quickly as yours

  • Posted by OleviaConrad48 at Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I'll forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing! mushroom growing kits puppy potty training potty training tips for boys binge eating disorder bulimia treatment

  • Posted by OleviaConrad48 at Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    That is a good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very precise info… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post! garden shed plans chicken coop designs plywood boat plans mushroom garden potty training puppies

  • Posted by QueenBlumberg46 at Saturday, August 02, 2014 at 12:02 AM

    Hello There. I discovered your weblog using msn. That is an extremely well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your helpful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return SEO click this click this click this SEO.

  • Posted by ronaeg at Friday, August 15, 2014 at 06:22 AM

    I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful. الفوتوشوب تعليم الفوتوشوب دروس الفوتوشوب

  • Posted by You In Travel at Tuesday, September 09, 2014 at 01:59 AM

    Woow , Amazing i a pleasure to read this post thank you so much for sharing ..
    travelling europe travel to Europe adventure travel

Current Stories


News stories, digests and Meno Acontecer


Births and Marriages

Readers Say