August 19, 2019 | Read more »
For many years Oakhurst Baptist has participated in a limited prison ministry. We, along with other churches, have a driver and our church van at a Marta Station to pick up families and significant others to take them to a prison so they can visit with their loved ones. There have been two organizations who have spearheaded the monthly visits: the Open Door Community and Friends of Prison Families. The first Saturday of the month we go in a caravan of church vans to one prison and the third Saturday of the month we go in a caravan to another prison.
Over the years the number of folks riding the vans has increased and decreased. Currently, the first Saturday has only one church van going and we churches take turns being the one. The third Saturday trip waned but has increased in numbers so that there are always three or four vans in a caravan. The folks who want to ride are supposed to call to a facilitator and reserve a seat but they don’t always do so. We meet the people at a designated train station, make the trip, then leave them back at the station. The trips usually go from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. when we are back in Atlanta.
On both monthly trips a church will provide a lunch for all of us in the town where the prison is located. The Presbyterian Church of Milledgeville has provided a very nice lunch for the caravan for about 30 years. The Friends of Prison Families trip goes to Montezuma and there various black churches offer us a good lunch.
In both prisons the folks arrive at 1 p.m. and can visit until 3 p.m. Then the caravan returns to Atlanta. It’s a long day and our drivers are tired. They get gas, return to the church, and go home. It is a 2 1/2 hour drive one way. I have been the facilitator for the past 14 years – it’s simply a matter of lining up drivers and a little coordinating with the two organizations that arrange the trips. We are going to eliminate one of the monthly trips at the end of the year as the organization lacks good leadership. This will be tough on those few families who still want to ride to that prison but it will be easier to facilitate drivers.
Leon Clymore is a member of Oakhurst Baptist Church. For more information about this story, contact Leon at [email protected]