"> Central State Prison Ministry | Macon, GA | St. Innocent Orthodox Church
/ About Us / Our Ministries / Central State Prison Ministry
Why Minister to People in Prison by OCPM

 


Our life in this world is a fierce and violent spiritual war.  As St. Paul says, we struggle not “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” [1] Not only are we participants in this warfare, we are also its prize.  We are the crown of God’s creation, created in His image and likeness, the only creature created for the sole purpose of glorifying God by having fellowship with Him. So the devil, being a created being and therefore powerless to attack God directly, attacks God by attacking that which is most dear to Him: us.  “[Our] adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”[2]: his only goal is to destroy and enslave as many of God’s precious children as he can before his time comes to an end, and our role as Christians, as “partakers of the divine nature” [3] and participants in the High Priesthood of Christ,[4] is to do everything in our power to prevent the devil from taking one more soul to Hell with him.  This is the war we are in, and this war is our raison d’etre: we were created to be in union with God, and we come into union with God by doing His will. Christ, who came “to seek and to save that which was lost”,[5] desires “all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.”[6] In uniting us to Himself, God has given us the privilege and obligation of participating in His saving work, of fighting in this war against the devil and his angels.  Our weapon in this war is Christ Himself.  “[For we], being dead in [our] trespasses,…He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven [us] all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” [7] When Christ is present, the demons are utterly defeated.  We fight this war, and win it, by bringing the presence of Christ and His saving power to those who are estranged from Him. 

One of the places of most profound and widespread estrangement from Christ is prison. Prison is a true stronghold of the devil: a place of darkness and violence populated by people who, due to the weakness of their flesh, have not refrained from their sinful behavior, even when facing earthly consequences as dire as imprisonment.  If the Church is, as it has aptly been called, the hospital of the soul, prisoners are very often the critical cases.  All of us “have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God”;[8] all of us have, like the unjust servant in Matthew 18, been forgiven of a debt we could never repay and have thereby been saved from the eternal punishment we deserve; all of us would go straight to hell were it not for the grace of God which has been offered to us in Jesus Christ, a grace we absolutely do not deserve.  We on the outside occupy no moral high ground from which to cast stones at those who are incarcerated, because we are all ensnared in the same mire of sin, in need of the same salvation.  The only difference between those of us on the outside and those who are inside is that those who are inside have largely been abandoned by the outside world, including by those of us who call ourselves Christians.  Too often we Christians are like the priest and the Levite who passed by the wounded man without offering help, when we should be imitating the Good Samaritan. 

Of course, it is not only prisoners who suffer as a result of their incarceration: very often, the prisoner’s family is impacted even more negatively by the prisoner’s bad decisions than is the prisoner himself.  Each year, hundreds of thousands of families are torn apart by the incarceration of a parent, spouse or child.  These innocents need the love of Christ as desperately as their incarcerated loved ones.  This is especially true of the children.  Without the loving intervention of Christ in their lives, many of these little ones will internalize the horror of their childhoods and grow up into a life of crime and incarceration just like their parents’. 

The spiritual needs of prisoners and their families are profound and largely unmet.  When Jesus evangelized the Samaritan Woman at the well, and told his disciples to do the same to the Samaritans in her town, they probably thought it was strange that the Lord would tell them to proclaim the Gospel to people who were seemingly so different from themselves. Today, the fields of the American penal system are white for harvest, and we must begin to labor in that harvest, even though that means entering a world which is totally foreign to most of us. 

When describing the Last Judgment in Matthew 25, the Lord specifically mentions five behaviors that manifest a life lived in accordance with His will: His feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking in strangers, caring for the sick, and ministering to those in prison. Now, the Lord was not saying, “Do these things and you’ll get into heaven." He was saying that a person who is living a life that is truly filled with the Spirit, who is striving to live his life in accordance with the Gospel and in submission to the will of God, will naturally manifest these behaviors as the love of God that is poured out in his heart overflows to those around him. One day, all of us will stand before the Throne of Judgment. Let us pray that, when that time comes, we can answer that we did, indeed, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the stranger, care for the sick, and minister to those in prison. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Ephesians 6: 11-13

[2] I Peter 5:8

[3] II Peter 1:4

[4] Cf. I Peter 2:9

[5] Luke 19:10

[6] I Timothy 2:4

[7] Colossians 2:13-15

[8] Romans 3:23

This article and more can be found here

 

(0 images)


(0 images)


(0 images)


(0 images)


(0 images)


Don't Stress, be our Guest!
If this will be your first time in an Orthodox Church service you may feel a little overwhelmed. Orthodox worship is ancient, unchanging, and very unfamiliar to the average American. With that in mind, we encourage you to relax. No one is able to "get it" know what "to do" in their first visit. Simply pray, let the words of the scripture wash over you, and if you have any questions, at the end of the service feel free to ask.  
 
We love kids!

St Innocent enthusiastically pursues our mission to nurture our precious children in the Orthodox Christian faith. From our church school students to the littlest one in arms, you'll find a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for children during our services. Our parents understand that it can be a blessed struggle to raise children properly in the Christian faith, and that includes worship! At St Innocent, you will find a supportive family to help.

The Sacraments of the Church, such as Holy Communion, are offered only to Baptized and/or Chrismated (confirmed) Orthodox Christians.  However, all are invited to receive the blessed bread at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.  The blessed bread is not sacramental but is reminiscent of the agape feast that followed worship in the ancient Church.

After the Divine Liturgy, all are welcome to join us in the Church hall for fellowship and light refreshments.

Please know that we are here to serve you.  If you are interested in learning more about the Orthodox faith we frequently have Newcomers classes throughout the year.  If you have any further questions or concerns please contact Fr. Theophan and let him know.  

Orthodox worship can seem strange to someone who has never been to an Orthodox Church before. However, we belive that our worship must be in Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24).

Our worship is Biblical

Orthodox worship is rich with scriptures -- not just the reading of the scriptures, but from the hymns to the petitions, everything we do in worship is based on scripture. The Book of Psalms is often called the Hymnbook of the Church, and we sing and read a lot of them! Orthodox Christians often memorize many Psalms simply from hearing them so often in our worship services. 

However, you'll not only hear scripture, you'll see it. The patterns of Orthodox worship, based in the Christian fulfillment of Jewish liturigical worship, is most fully a manifestation of descriptions we read about in the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews and in the Book of Revelation. We join into the worship that is eternally sung before the throne of God (Isaiah 6).

You'll also see that Orthodox Christians stand a lot during worship. While there are chairs and pews, able-bodied Orthodox Christians prefer to stand in worship, because they are in the very Presence of God!

The Sacraments Give Us Life

We participate in the new life of the Kingdom of God through the sacraments (mysteries) by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Baptism, we die and rise with Christ (Romans 6). In the Eucharist, we are sustained by Christ's Body and Blood (John 6). In Holy Anointing, our sins are forgiven for healing (James 5). Each sacrament is the way faithful Orthodox Christians participate in the Divine Life given to us as a gift here and now, and as a foretaste of our eternal inheiritance.

Icons

The most distinctive feature of Orthodox Churches is their use of iconography or holy images. Simply put, icons testify to the truth of the incarnation of Christ. He became a man, and therefore He can be pictured. Orthodox Christians would say, in fact, that He must be pictured. Otherwise, we can easily forget that He became a real human for our sake, and that He came to redeem humanity. He is, indeed, the God-Man, fully divine as the eternal Word of God (John 1). But He became truly human, like us in everything but sin (Hebrews 4).

We kiss the icons of Christ, His Mother, and the Saints, not out of idolatry (God forbid!), but out of honor. The honor we show passes to the person whose image is depicted.

The Sign of the Cross

You'll see Orthodox Christians trace the sign of the cross on their bodies frequently. This is the traditional way in which we bless ourselves, and in which we are blessed by others. Making the sign of the cross is one of the most ancient practices of Christians, and it is the sign par excellence of Christianity.

Singing

Orthodox Christians love to sing! Our singing is always unaccompanied by any musical instruments. This is another sign that our worship is joined to the heavenly choirs with the angels and all the saints who gather around the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Join in!

We want you to feel welcomed during our services. While Orthodox worship may seem somewhat unfamiliar, we believe fully and without reservation that Orthodox worship is the way worship is supposed to look like. This is worship as it was always meant to be. Discovering it for the first time has been an overwhelming sense of joy for people around the world, and we hope you'll come to discover that too.

00000
image
Lenten Retreat

This year we have Archpriest David C. Rucker coming to visit us and speak about having vision in the Christian life.  This retreat will be broken down into three sessions. 

Saturday @ 2 pm: Session I: My Vision for 2021
Saturday @ 4 pm: Session II: The Vision of our Parish

Sunday @ 12:30 pm: Session III: Living out the Vision in our home and parish

All are welcome. BYOB (Bring your own Bible), Pencil/Pen/notebook or paper, and a statement of “Mission” for your life.

More info will be posted as it comes available. This event will be held in person as well as a private link online for those who may need it. 


00001
image
Small Parish Forum

Fr. Theophan and Molly Croft participated in the Small Parish Forum in Toledo, OH. 


00002
image
St. Innocent Orthodox Church celebrating 20 years in Middle GA

On Saturday and Sunday, September 3/4, St. Innocent Orthodox Church celebrated 20 years since our founding in Macon, GA. His Grace Bishop Alexander was with us for the celebration. On Saturday we started with a Moleben of Thanksgiving followed by an informal get together and finished with Great Vespers. On Sunday we served the Hierarchial Liturgy. Three readers were tonsured and a Diocesan Gromata was given. It was a beautiful weekend. May God continue to grow and establish our humble church!


00000
image
Lenten Retreat

This year we have Archpriest David C. Rucker coming to visit us and speak about having vision in the Christian life.  This retreat will be broken down into three sessions. 

Saturday @ 2 pm: Session I: My Vision for 2021
Saturday @ 4 pm: Session II: The Vision of our Parish

Sunday @ 12:30 pm: Session III: Living out the Vision in our home and parish

All are welcome. BYOB (Bring your own Bible), Pencil/Pen/notebook or paper, and a statement of “Mission” for your life.

More info will be posted as it comes available. This event will be held in person as well as a private link online for those who may need it. 


00001
image
Small Parish Forum

Fr. Theophan and Molly Croft participated in the Small Parish Forum in Toledo, OH. 


00002
image
St. Innocent Orthodox Church celebrating 20 years in Middle GA

On Saturday and Sunday, September 3/4, St. Innocent Orthodox Church celebrated 20 years since our founding in Macon, GA. His Grace Bishop Alexander was with us for the celebration. On Saturday we started with a Moleben of Thanksgiving followed by an informal get together and finished with Great Vespers. On Sunday we served the Hierarchial Liturgy. Three readers were tonsured and a Diocesan Gromata was given. It was a beautiful weekend. May God continue to grow and establish our humble church!


About Us
For Visitors

St. Innocent Orthodox Church     |     Contact