After a smooth and safe trip to NOLA and some well-deserved rest, we were all excited to explore the city. Alana, Richard, Jim, Ellena, and Judy decided to head next door to worship with St. Andrews while Marilyn, Sandy, Lana, and myself (Frank) headed to Trinity Episcopal for their Sunday service. Both services were quite wonderful and were an excellent way to refresh and focus our ministry for the week.
Those in the group who went to Trinity heard a wonderful sermon by their Rector, Fr. Henry Hudson who spoke of the church’s ministry at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, which was once known as the “Alcatraz of the South”. He spoke of the prison warden’s openness to religious leaders into the facility and what a turnaround this has made for the prison. Despite the fact that more than 90% of the prison’s inmates will never be released from jail, there is now a fully functional seminary within Angola’s walls serving all denominations and all religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and others. This program has decreased violence significantly and Angola now stands as one of the safest prisons in the United States.
Yet Fr. Hudson’s message underlined the importance of persistant and unrelenting service to God. That through Trinity’s prison ministry, those who previously had no hope have been renewed by the love of others. Angola is perhaps the last place one might think to start a ministry, but it has made the difference for countless prisoners who’s lives have been helped by the stewardship of Trinity Church and others.
What a powerful message to begin our mission trip! We spoke with Fr. Hudson at coffee hour (yes, they have it too!) and he directed us to the website where his sermon should be posted shortly.
to tell to all the world that God is Light;
that he who made all nations is not willing
one soul should fail to know his love and might.
Publish glad tidings: tidings of peace,
tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.]
that God, in whom they live and move, is Love;
tell how he stooped to save his lost creation,
and died on earth that all might live above. (Refrain)
give of thy wealth to speed them on their way;
pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious
till God shall bring his kingdom’s joyful day. (Refrain)
make known to every heart his saving grace;
let none whom he hath ransomed fail to greet him,
through thy neglect, unfit to see his face. (Refrain)