Prison Congregation Model Explained
In 1984, The American Lutheran Church, with leadership from the Maryland Department of Corrections and the Lutheran Social Service Office in the area, called Pastor Ed Nesselhuff to begin a prison congregation in the Maryland Correctional Institution (MCIJ) and the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW) both in Jessup Maryland. The congregation is called "The Community of St. Dysmas." Pastor Ed began developing a model for prison ministry that is now used in nine institutions in the United States (as of November 1998). After three years as mission developer, Pastor Ed served briefly as a campus pastor, but his passion for prison ministry led him and others in South Dakota to begin another prison congregation at the Maximum Security Unit in Sioux Falls. This congregation, named "St. Dysmas of South Dakota" also serves inmates in another facility to the south in Richardson, SD.
With two such congregations successfully started and operating, Pastor Ed began to explore some way that this model for prison ministry could be expanded. With the encouragement of several enthusiastic brothers and sisters in Christ, Prison Congregations of America, Inc. was born as a consulting ministry to help communities start a prison congregation ministry.

Here's how the model works:
The inmates are the members by their participation. Although inmates give very generously from their meager ($2-$3 per day) earnings, they could not possibly support a pastor's salary, mileage, and office expenses. Therefore, congregations surrounding the institution(s) being served support this ministry through their individual gifts, congregational giving, and/or placing the ministry on their annual budgets. In addition, these supporters are invited to visit the worship services of the prison congregation. They come as more than just a visitor - they are a witness to the inmates that there are people on the outside who care about the inmates enough to take the time to join them in worship and partnership in the ministry of Christ.
Leaders in Corrections today are seeking these connections between inmates and outside people, so this ministry is welcomed by correctional facilities as a very positive means of making this connection.
Today, Ed Nesselhuf is the Executive Director of Prison Congregations of America, Inc. in Vermillion, South Dakota. You can learn more about PCoA by clicking on the link below.

Go to web page of Prison Congregations of America
E-Mail Pastor Ed Nesselhuf, Executive Director
Go to web page of The Community of St. Dysmas, Jessup, Maryland
Go to web page of St. Dysmas of South Dakota
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