Hollywood Lutheran Church
Mariposa Prison & Parole Ministries
Read the third issue of Mariposa Prison & Parole News June 2012 (8 pp.)
Previous issue: Mariposa Prison & Parole News December 2011 (8 pp.)
Download Judgment is Coming! Pastor Dan's 5 minute statement on matters of conscience, delivered at the Southwest Calfornia Synod Aseembly June 1, 2012.
“For I was in prison and you visited me.” -Jesus (Matthew 25:36)
In the Fall of 2009, the Social Concerns Committee of Hollywood Lutheran Church began exploring what we might do to assist one person in our worshiping community who had incurred a technical violation of his parole and sent back to prison. Because of the peculiarities of the California penal system, in a few months, Jeffrey was transferred from one facility to another.
We began receiving letters from other inmates in several prisons whose lives had been touched by Jeffrey. They wanted to know more about a gracious Christian congregation in Hollywood which they heard was welcoming and non-judgmental.
As a response, our Mariposa Prison & Parole Ministry was born. The Mariposa Ministry team now includes six members of the church, and an equal number of non-members, who are writing letters and making prison visits. We are in regular contact with more than 100 inmates in 16 different California penal institutions. We also welcome parolees into our community, to help them get a new start in life.
And, under the plan of a small grant received from Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, Pastor Dan is engaged in writing a Catechism specifically intended as a correspondence course for inmates. A full first draft is expected in summer 2012.
In June 2011, Carl Hunter began work as the Coordinator of Services under this grant, and now shepherds the committee, arranges prison visits, writes to inmates and works with parolees. David Conrad and Xi Chen also have been of great assistance in record keeping.
In January 2012, the congregation adopted a new Bylaw to enable California prison inmates who share the same faith in Jesus as we do to become Associate Members of Hollywood Lutheran Church. And also in January, Bishop Dean Nelson convened the first meeting of a Southwest California Synod Prison & Jail Ministry Network, which is now bringing together the work of up to 12 congregations and encouraging many others to become involved.
As of August, 2012, we are relating to more than 100 inmates and parolees. Our four-fold mission for the Mariposa Ministry springs from a commitment to follow where Jesus leads us (Matthew 16:24) and to minister to Jesus where he is in our world today (Matthew 25:31–46):
- Encourage and support inmates in California prisons
- Provide case management and assistance to parolees returning to Los Angeles County
- Participate in advocacy in matters of law and public policy re: criminal justice
- Work with partners within the Southwest California Synod (ELCA) in broadening the work of jail and prison ministry in the region
Pastor Steve wrote for the June 2010 Spotlight newsletter:
I’ve heard it said that everyone needs three things in order to live a happy and healthy life: someplace to BE, something to DO, and someone to LOVE.
It makes sense, and here at Hollywood Lutheran we’re working to create opportunities for those folks, particularly LBGTQ folks, who are incarcerated or recently released from jail or prison to have a place to BE (housing opportunities), something to DO (job training an employment assistance) and someone to LOVE (spiritual connections with caring Christian brothers and sisters). All of this opens an opportunity for YOU…
You can take part in this important Jesus-given mission by opening your heart to love these people who have been pushed to the margins of society, offering them a true taste of God’s unconditional love. Here are some truly “hands on” ways to help:
Get involved in writing letters to incarcerated folks.
Support (or join!) the “Mariposa” Prison Ministry Team here at HLC. We especially need the informal advice of a criminal law attorney!
Imagine ways to support safer and more productive environments for all LGBTQ people.
Offer your job expertise and help folks to make connections in the community.
Your donations help us to send Bibles, cards and stamps to inmates who have no way to communicate with the world outside without such (modest) assistance.
If you have ideas to help move this ministry forward, we welcome your input…and hope and pray for your involvement as the Spirit of God moves us more deeply into this amazing area of ministry.
It is our faith . . .
- that God loves all people. God created us and blessed us all with the intention that we live with freedom, dignity and purpose (Genesis 1:26–31). God hates no one!
- that Christ is God’s gift to us, and has redeemed all humanity by the blood of his Cross (John 3:16–17; Romans 5:6).
- that all people have sinned and do not meet God’s expectations (Romans 321–26), but in Christ all our sins are forgiven.
- that no one deserves or earns the love of God, but everyone receives it as a gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8–10).
- that in Christ there are no distinctions, as St. Paul says (Galatians 3:28): “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave [prisoner] or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Because of Christ, every human being is an heir to all the promises which God made to the Chosen People.
- that nothing we might do, or may have done in the past, can make God stop loving us: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39)
- that if we love Jesus and want to follow in his steps, we are called to love each other (John 15:12–14; 1 John 4:7–21), love neighbors and strangers, work for justice (Amos 5:14–15), help those who are lost or in need (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 25:34–40), and share the Good News with others far and wide (Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 10:7).
If this is also your faith, then we hope to share with you in all the blessings and bounty of God’s love. If you put your faith in Christ, we want to be your brothers and sisters.
Anyone interested in helping in this ministry, especially for personal visits to inmates or to secure stable housing for parolees, may direct gifts to "Mariposa Prison Ministry." Click the Donate tab at the bottom of this page.
| Mariposa? |
It’s the Spanish word for “butterfly,” a symbol of resurrection and new life. It is also a slang term used in several cultures to refer to gay people. We’ve decided that it’s a good way to describe the work we’re doing through our prison/parolee outreach ministry.
|What Mariposa Ministry attempts to do:|
Download our "Good News for Inmates" brochure (PDF file ). See: "It is Our Faith" above.