What is Kairos?
Kairos is a special time in the life of a prison inmate. Kairos is God’s time not measured by human measures. Kairos is a time when the only thing that matters is the building of a new relationship between God and inmate.
What is the Kairos Mission?
The mission of the Kairos Prison Ministry is to share the transforming love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ in order to impact the hearts and lives of incarcerated men, women, and youth, as well as their families, to become loving and productive citizens of their communities.
Kairos Prison Ministry International, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit-corporation chartered in the State of Florida.
Where does Kairos Serve?
Kairos Prison Ministries are active in thirty-six states and nine foreign countries. The program is active in many Ohio prisons: Allen/Oakwood,Belmont, Chillicothe, Circleville Juvenile, Dayton, Franklin Medical Center, Grafton, Hocking, Lebanon, London, Madison, Marion, North Central, Northeast Reintegration, Ohio Reformatory for Women, Pickaway, Ross, Southern Ohio (Lucasville), Toledo, Trumbull, and Warren.
Kairos programs serve both men and women in their respective prisons. The Kairos Torch program specifically works with youthful offenders with a goal of helping them find a more productive track for their lives. In addition to the ministry to incarcerated persons, Kairos also has a Kairos Outside program that works with the women in the lives of incarcerated men to help them reconcile with their loved one.
All of the Kairos programs run without cost to the participants or the institution.
How do the incarcerated benefit?
The incarcerated benefit by meeting a group of volunteers who are committed to meeting the inmates wherever they are in their spiritual journey without judging their past actions. Through interaction with Kairos volunteers, residents learn that they are children of God, and have not forfeited God’s love. Through follow-up programs, the residents meet other prisoners who have also been through the Kairos program and have committed themselves to leading a God-centered life in the future.
How does the institution benefit?
The record shows that in prisons where Kairos has been active for a few years, there is a significant reduction in the level of violence directed towards other inmates and towards correction officers. This results in a calmer atmosphere, which is more conducive towards rehabilitation. In addition, there is a reduction in the recidivism rate.
What is a Kairos weekend like?
After several weeks of team building and instructional meetings, a team of forty to fifty volunteers meets at the prison entrance early on Thursday afternoon where they pray for each other and the weekend before going through the gate. Between that time and late afternoon on Sunday, they will spend over forty hours inside the prison. Each day when the prisoners arrive, they are announced as if they were rock stars. Most of them have never had this type of recognition. Typically, 42 residents will participate in each weekend.
On the first night, the team and residents provide a brief introduction. The team never asks questions about a resident’s offenses or sentence. Each night at the end the day’s program, every resident participant receives a bag with 2 dozen cookies to share back at the dorm.
Each day, the volunteers cheer the arrival of the residents into the meeting room. There will be brief chapel services at various points during the day. There will be talks offered by both lay and clergy volunteers followed by discussion and poster making. Residents and team members will take meals (other than breakfast) together in the meeting room. These meals are not standard prison fare because the Kairos team has brought special food to be prepared in the prison kitchen. Throughout the weekend, platters of cookies, fruit, or fresh vegetables are on the tables at all times. Volunteer table servers serve each table family coffee, ice tea, etc.
Friday and Saturday are 14-hour days for the team, but the team is usually pumped up and running on caffeine and chocolate chip cookies. After lunch the team works on some wrapping-up projects: modeling prayer, explaining the ongoing Kairos program within the prison that the residents are encouraged to join, and getting ready for the closing. Outside visitors are invited to the afternoon closing.
Who can be involved in a weekend?
Nearly anyone can be involved in a Kairos weekend. There are a number of very important roles. Not everyone feels comfortable as a volunteer inside the prison. However, a lot of help is needed outside.
The weekend needs:
Prayer: Each weekend will have a prayer vigil from 4:00 Thursday until 4:00 on Sunday. People can sign up for half hour shifts to pray for the team and residents. Prayers may be offered from any location; no travel is required! Residents are in awe when they see the list of people who have been praying for them 24 hours a day throughout the weekend.
Placemats: Placemats decorated by children are very important to the residents. They take them back to their quarters and treasure them. With appropriate teaching children learn they are doing something to make another person happy. A good Christian lesson!
Cookies: Cookies fuel the weekend! There are cookies on the tables all weekend long. Each night the 42 residents each take a package of 2 dozen cookies back to their quarters to share. During the weekend, every resident and employee in the prison receives 2 dozen cookies. This illustrates the abundance of God’s love and that God’s love is for everyone. A weekend will require 7500 dozen home cooked cookies.
Money: The Kairos program does not receive any taxpayer money. A typical weekend will cost about $8,000. No one on the weekend team is compensated for his or her time. Tax deductable cash contributions keep the program running. Checks may be written to: Kairos of Ohio.
Thank you for your kind support.
All Saints Episcopal Church Contacts:
Deacon Fred Shirley
Deacon Colleen Smith